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Jeannine Shackelton, USA
Jeannine was born in the New Mexico desert and now makes her home back there after having worked in the Washington DC area as an Advertising Director of sixteen newspapers. Her poetry has appeared in numerous online and print venues. Her first book is expected to be published this year. She was recently awarded a "Pushcart" nomination.

a stone marked
my right temple
sharp edges
thirty years ago

the first monday
fallen down
gravel path
to school

for all things

blood from the cut
like a cornerstone

while new yorkers
strolled in the park
i was laid out
on the table
staring at tiles
thinking another girls thoughts
must still float
up there

the doctor
broke silence
i felt
cold steel
inside my womb
another life
was cut

it was a small room
6th floor
where nurses hold your hand

the stain
on the sheet
didn't come off
when mother soaked them
in bleach
the blood
still clung
like silt in a river

soapy water
as if nothing had happened

mother shook against the fabric
laid it out
ripped the sheet
in a cross wind of words
about ham

One day I will go to chama

i have given my time
as a hand to a cradle
stepping in to lift pillows
in scrubbed down rooms
white adobe walls
molded at the foot
of picacho peak
by hard working men

now i see
tubes of oxygen slide
snake like over my mother's
mexican tiles
fangs hanging from her nose
her mouth
void of any lover's kiss
breathing brought air
she remembers
the warm hands of
a young doctor upon
her sore neck
not my father's high laughter
in the town plaza

i smile
a woman who unfolds
cold sheets every night
and crawls into bed

once smoked and margaritas
would ease her left hand
to the ridge of a bath
small bubbles in a ring
at her breasts

now as lizards climb
patio chairs overlooking
the organ mountains
i bring cool water and
pills to her bedside
describe a hundred shades of orange
sky turned against cottonwoods
at dawn
how quail run freely
along the rock fence

one day i will go to chama
to see striped trout
along the river
my mother fished
and i waded half naked
throwing pebbles at empty cans
i will stand in rolling country
for a long time
in blue shadows
and water pushing my thoughts
revolving my definition
of mother

setting my dining room table

since last
ETC treatment
i quietly open
my cookbooks
back pages
arranging silverware
on the table
as the drawing shows

i must not forget
the proper order

i turn knife blades

if the white cloth
handed down from my mother
with age
i will wash
& iron it out

i will keep
a bowl of fruit
in the center
if an apple tree
sprouts from it
i will believe
in second chances

if ants come
i will share broken bread

when saying the prayer
i will try to remember...

on the acelerator

i didn't mind
driving over trans mountain
i knew the hospital route better
than the curve of my breast
every morning i remembered
miles of tubes
down your body
i wanted to be there
couldn't wait to slam
my foot on the accelerator
to drop ice cubes
in your mouth
comb your hair

for years
you'd wiped away flies
noon heat
crusted scales
never questioning i was
your plucked pearl
your bird
the one who screamed with colic
could not be pleased
as you pressed against me
pink skin
furious eyes

was it last month
or last year
i dreamt of your red suit
matching high heels
down the sidewalk
you smoked l & m's
a tanned 35
lipstick and dollar bills
swimming in your purse

your life entered
another room
half glass walls
looked through
machines pumping

driving by the plot
at midnight
on a trembling road
71 years rush over
the mountain pass

salad bar

before the crowded salad bar
the mounds
are ready for deborah
she remembers
clutching the plate
the press
of low vinyl seats
where her brothers friend
his friend
and their friend
and a friend's friend
into her mustang
saturday night
drive-in 1965
when everyone wanted
piled high

later auto designers
of such schemes

now she
bean salad
thinks it is only
two days before
they drive down
to hilton head
open up the
beach house
when the briggs arrive
with scented oil
towels made by
she can't even pronounce
some videos too
with tropical island orgies
hash to smoke day or night

he puts olives on romaine
thinks someone else can
pick up
the mail
this coming week
her husband didn't mention
the bills
left on their library desk
those 900 number calls
he made
when he got steamed up
before he climbed
over her face
he just said
"i have something for you,"
never forgetting
to remind  her
of that three or four times a week
always vowing to
sure heat her up
next time
and would go out
to the kitchen
for a while
then return
smelling of cheese

she notices
a dribble of food
on his white polo shirt
as she returns
to the table
shakes her napkin
over her crossed legs
feels the press of
her movado wrist watch
and she is cool
very cool.

All works copyright Jeannine Shackelton