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Janet Buck

Janet Buck

A Visit to the Country Club

by Janet Buck


I wear the wrong shoes for this place
because I have the wrong feet.
In the banquet room, an ice sculpture
carved as a silk-feathered swan
is a centerpiece servants try to save
from the ineluctable melt—
the hot breath of gossipers & body heat.
Church is done—no talk of God.
As I eat crêpes & lobster tails, foreign food,
in a bucket of butter that makes me sick,
I watch the children through large glass panes
playing on a tablecloth of snow across the crew-cut sod.
I guess their creations on grass.

The spoiled kids are packing cue balls
to pick a fight, bruise the eye of a bird,
but Sadie is not. My neighbor’s niece is four.
She is making pancakes, tortillas rolled flat
by callused palms from pulling weeds as tall as she.
A cup of sand from a nearby trap
helps them hold their shape.
She knows this recipe because
we live so many miles from here
in a trailer court that has no hired gardeners.
Our soil is used for making food
to freeze or can, to stretch
across long avenues of winter months.

As the year 3000 inches near,
Sadie will be the very last woman in town
to bake a pie from scratch
with apples from our neighbor’s tree.
We know how to cut out a bruise or a worm.
She will be wearing comfortable shoes.
A cluster of waning peonies drop petals on kitchen tile.
When the hospice nurse arrives
to discuss her sister’s pressing death,
Sadie will take her rolling pin,
knock the woman on both knees, usher her out.
Sadie will know what a real meltdown is—
swallow every drop of it.


When Life is Wool & Not Chenille


You tell me, “You deserve a rabbit’s foot—
furry, soft, and tangible
considering what surly Fate
shave handed you—in short,
a quilt with batting made of chicken wire.”
We both laugh a high-strung laugh—
touch metal cinched in loops of poles,
which hold up soaked and heavy towels.

“I know my back is lion prey shredded
by incisive claws and razor teeth.”
I think the things we cannot say.
She’s making tea. I tell her,
“Hey, I live for licorice/mint,
hazelnut and cinnamon,
that lavender with honey drops
for stress reprieve.” We both know
every shape and style and size
of bandages we’ve bought and ditched.

“What about a rabbit’s foot—
the 17th, that visit with this Dr. Stearns?”
I interrupt her with a sigh.
“Did you know that God can’t
make the sun itself boil a simple
pan of water? He or she
can only tell the sun to make
the water somewhat warm.”

My best friend knows it’s plain
I’ll never walk again, that I expect
fillets of cod to come with bones.
“I hear the thunder coming close:
let’s pull the clothes before the hail.”
She knows I don’t believe in soft.
That I won’t settle for a chair—
a lukewarm life.


Puddle Jumpers in a Storm


Our puppy begs me for my lap; I set her there.
She’s lighter than two quarts of milk—
still pressure sores react with searing arguments.
The small of my back can only hold
just so much weight. I put her down—
as if I tossed a child in dumpsters
on a filthy street, continents away.
Steps become short stanzas
and a backspace key. My foot and calf—
a corndog smashed on curving sticks.
A docx file I can’t revise,
days begin with setting suns.
Squinted eyes of olive pits,
dark punishments for pills I take.

A guesthouse tied to cleavages of broken
bridges falling in a sweeping river,
not the calm along the Seine,
where lovers kiss beneath
a white and bulging moon.
Stuff like that’s a fairytale.
I become a mannequin propped
against a pillowed chair.

I’m puddle jumpers in a storm
that do their best unlocking
wheels that won’t release.
A market in the open air, packed
with loads of fragile fruit,
which cannot handle fingerprints,
let alone smarting strikes of hailstones.
Tendrils of an octopus that meet dry land,
don’t know how to cope with logs.
I stay erect just long enough
to brush my teeth, run my tongue
along a row of broken ones,
down to worn eraser heads.

The Welcome mat of what
I see in bathroom mirrors.


The Broken Buddha Pose


In kindergarten class—for story time
all the kids sat in a circle,
perfect as a poker chip—
Indian or Buddha style.
My brace stuck out on center stage,
a metal hip attached,
thick leather waist band
digging in my ulcerated skin.
Hyperbole by accident.

Bilging even more—
a shrunken femur with a knee
that didn’t match the other leg,
cloned in one red beat-up tennis shoe
distorted by a bad clubbed foot.
Below the knee that didn’t bend,
a tiny foot—a giant, ugly hernia with toes—
covered with a carbon slab.

Then a steel pole undressed, a plastic foot
to level out my height, when I scrambled
my way to a stand. Invisible at school?
Absurd. Everyone stared,
including the teacher, skipping
words in nursery rhymes,
tripping on loose stepping stones.
Tethers of the theme were lost.

When I went home, I bent the legs
of all my Barbie dolls until they broke,
then drowned them in the bathroom sink.
On & off for surgeries, a nice MD pressed
a rag, soaked in ether, to my nose—
the blessing of a few hours’ sleep.
The first short chapter of a life
kept secret—dusty, ancient living moths—
fluttering—eating sweaters in a trunk
for more than half a century.





Janet BuckJanet Buck is a seven-time Pushcart Nominee and the author of four full-length collections of poetry. More than 4,000 of her poems & pieces of prose are in print and on the internet. Janet’s recent work has appeared in The Birmingham Arts Journal, Antiphon, Offcourse, PoetryBay, Vine Leaves, PoetrysuperhighwayMisfit MagazineLavender Wolves, and River Babble. Her latest print collection of verse, Dirty Laundry, is currently available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble & other outlets. Visit the ordering link at her new web page: www.janetibuck.com. Buck’s first novel, Samantha Stone, will be released by Vine Leaves Press in September 2016.