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Trying to Write a Poem about Joan Blondell

by Jim Zola


Not knowing how or when, the poem becomes

a crystal ornament smashed beneath

a black boot heel, a son tossing

his father's bag-of-bones body

against the kitchen wall and later

regretting a broken plate. It's blue,

something his wife picked up at a yard sale

years before and in another town.

She said the plate once belonged

to a Russian Prince who ate canned peas

every day. The only time the Prince

was truly happy was when he picked

a bucket of ripe strawberries

in Horodok in June, the light

scattered through a net of dying branches.

The berries were delicious and red.

This is my assumption, my right

to assume. Your hair may have been

berry red for all I know. This

isn't a poem about that. It's about

light, the branch, the sound a plate makes

when it hits tile, the dry crack

of a thief's leg bone, the second nail

through the thin wrist, strawberries

served on a cracked blue platter

just before the movie begins.