Hitting the glass whatever

I keep sending poems to Visual Verse; hope springs eternal… This was the June image.


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The only way to get ahead, they said, is to ape.

Be as strong as they are, as hard-headed.

Drink and swear, fight and break,

and leave the mess for someone else.

Hard heart, they said, take no prisoners.

But she, strong as oaks, was tender as new birch leaves

with dream children in her thoughts.

She fought with fists as hard as theirs,

but she never left a mess behind,

and when the drinking was done she kept a clear head

because someone has to drive home.

She swore as well as any man

but not to belittle her own genitalia.

They mocked behind her back and some to her face,

a woman without children is not a woman

and a woman with children is a burden to the business.

She fought until it seemed the game was not worth the candle

and she jumped.

Glass ceilings hurt

but not so much as the glass cliff.

Some people


The families in magazines all have straight teeth even the babies

and white carpets and ecru furniture.

Even the dog basket is ecru.

They pad around barefoot in teeshirts in winter

and they smile so hard their teeth must hurt.

They wear white to paint the ceiling and repair the lawnmower.

They cook things that only require stirring

in bare feet and white shirts

and they eat at a table of arctic whiteness.

Mother stands by proudly, wearing ecru oven gloves

and smiles to see them enjoying their banana and grated carrot salad.

The baby gets a smear of banana on his face.

They all laugh

and take his picture to send to the grandparents

who have never seen a baby with a smear of banana on his face.

Their cuteness excruciates.

I wonder where they live

and is it in some gated community

so they never get bricks through their windows

and the little girl with long blonde hair

doesn’t have to got to a school

where she has to sit next to a kid with nits and a bruised face

that she might touch with gentle fingers to sooth away the pain

and later because the smiling teeth don’t understand

sob herself to sleep in her white-sheeted bed.