Exquisite Corpse - Issue 3
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Two Poems
by Jay D. Mancini


Cats Paw

What do you see,
when you look at me?
I had never given it much
thought. Or rather,
I hadn't for a long time.
Sometimes the things
we take most for granted
are those things we love the most.
Looking back, perhaps
these weren't the right words
to say to you. Now it is too late.

This morning, early, I passed
the street where my father's
shoe-maker store had been.
East Ninth street, corner of First Avenue.
Three owners since, the steel
on steel machines (bought
by my grandfather sixty years
ago) still grind leather and cowhide
to exact shapes necessary for
a comfortable step. In the window
an ancient Cats Paw sign breaks
the continuity of an otherwise
average block. For a boy, this was
childhood: a father waving through
a giant pane of glass, hammer in hand,
mouth full of nails, happy to see
his son. How tall he seemed to be.

Outside, a harsh smell of glue floats
through the open door, attacking
passers-by. What grows holy with time,
too often remains a silent icon.
I have no words for the stranger
in the window now, just as I had
no words for my father back then.


Discussing world politics
over breakfast
eggs over easy
NPR over the air.
You reach over the table
pick up my hand
and kiss my fingers.

My little hand
you say
is like a childs.
You scold me
for biting my nails.
I promise I'll stop
as you laugh
and spill your coffee.

God you look
so good to me.
Can I have you.
Can I touch you.
Can I smell your hair
and be one with you.

We're late for work.
Later baby.

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