Thursday, 5 November 2015

2 Poems by Jeffrey Zable

It’s not like I was close with my best friend’s mother.
It’s more that she brings me back to a time and place.
And I remember how my friend would always be checking
his watch to make sure he was home on time because if he wasn’t,
both his parents would work him over and sometimes they’d shine
a flashlight in his eyes to see if he’d been drinking,
and if they thought he had been, it would mean being grounded
and sometimes a slap across the face from his mother.
He always said that she was the disciplinarian
and her mean spiritedness and unreasonable expectations
are what fucked him up in life.
Certainly in terms of discipline my own mother ‘took the reins’
but was quite different than my friend’s mother
in that I mostly received lectures and was made to feel guilty
when I didn’t do the right thing, but was never slapped,
and seldom grounded. Of course, my own mother fucked me up
in her own way and my best friend and I would often compare
how we were similar in being fucked up.
And now as I wait for the news as to whether his mother
will make it out of the hospital alive,
I can visualize her face as it was some 45 years ago
when my friend and I were still living with our parents,
looking forward to the day when we would both be on our own,
living our lives on our own terms—
which, of course, wasn’t quite the real story.


Surfing the internet with my best friend since high school,
I say, “How about Bonnie, that girl you were in love with in our class?”

To which he responds, “You mean Bonnie Franke?”

“Yeah, she’s the one!” I answer.

“You’d have to look under Bonnie Brumfield,
because that’s her married name,” he says.
“I wrote to her about ten years ago and she wrote back.
She lives near Sacramento. Has two grown kids
and works for H & R Block, if I remember correctly. . .”

So I type in Bonnie Brumfield from Sacramento
and it comes up, “Bonnie Brumfield obituary.”

I look at my friend’s face and see that he’s stunned.

When I click on it, there’s a recent picture of Bonnie
along with the obituary, which says she passed away
at the age of 58 from liver cancer.

“How sad is that!” I say to my friend, who silently stares at her picture,
probably remembering how she was during our high school days
when such things could never happen to a girl we loved. . .


Jeffrey Zable’s poetry, fiction, and non-fiction has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines,
anthologies, and newspapers since the mid-70’s. Present or upcoming writing in Coe Review,
Kentucky Review, Tule Review, Serving House Journal, Lullwater Review, Third Wednesday,
After The Pause, Chaos Poetry Review, Mas Tequila, Flint Hills Review 2015 Rhysling Award Anthology
and many others.

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