Karen Loeb lives in Eau Claire writing poetry and fiction. Her story “The Walk to Makino” won the 2014 Wisconsin People and Ideas fiction contest, and her story “Cantaloupe” won an Editor’s Choice Award in Carve Magazine’s 2014 Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. Poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, Hanging Loose, Main Street Rag and elsewhere. In the past year she has been enjoying her retirement–gardening, working with a local book festival, and participating in a college search for her daughter.
Men in Hawaiian print shirts
and Bermuda shorts
smoking Havana cigars.
Men in red suits and white beards
ringing bells at Christmas.
Men on relief.
Men giving relief.
Men swinging from vines
in Tarzan movies.
Men growing vines,
tangling them in my hair
Men in hip boots.
Men with no hips.
Men on street corners
Men papering my body
with manifestos about love
and their right-to-love.
Men jumping from fourth floors
to prove their despair.
Men in kangaroo suits
jumping at any chance.
Kissed by Kennedy
Marsha pranced through the doorway
of our Latin class, waving her arm
around like a flag. “I’ll never wash this
hand again,” she announced.
Mr. Reed gaped at her, peering
over his glasses. “You’re late,”
he said. “We’re reading about Jason
and the Argonauts.”
Marsha shrugged and giggled. “I was
in the crowd, right when he passed by—
you know, on Michigan Avenue.
I was in front, and I yelled out, ‘Te amo,
Te amo!’ and he stopped and took
my hand and kissed the top of it.”
Now we peppered her with questions—
Was he really as good looking in
person? Was Jackie with him?
Our teacher smiled and nodded at her
to open her book.
“I’ll never wash this hand again,”
she declared. “Never, never, never.
Te amo, Te amo, Te amo.” She put
her head down on her desk and wept.
The Horse In My Yard
There is no one in my family
on a farm any more.
The closest I can come
is the garage out back of our house
that holds our car, too many
flowerpots, pieces of wood, tomato
cages, a wheelbarrow with a
collapsed tire. The building was
a stable way back when.
I’m able to imagine it: a horse
lived there, born on a farm and
brought to town to pull a carriage
or a wagon. A horse lived there,
looked out on my yard a thousand
times as it munched on oats.
The proof is in the pitchfork, and
the loft above where shreds
of hay remain, littering the floor
all the way to the present day.
Woodland Pattern is nonprofit book center in the heart of Riverwest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We are dedicated to the discovery, cultivation and presentation of contemporary literature and the arts.