a poetry e-zine










Jane Harper

The week I learned to add, you took me to the ice-cream shop with the kiddie-taxi-cab ride. I pocketed the quarter, sat in the unmoving cab anyway. Looking at its ceiling, I’d hoped the hieroglyphics etched there hadn’t faded. How I wanted to know the person whose lips hid something that sweet, the sun peeking above a bruised horizon, the fruit of a cantaloupe moments before spoiling. On the roof of that cab I found words to stash in my mouth and whisper to boys who said I was too good, words you would have wanted to wash out with soap, words that rhymed with bucket, ones I heard the city girl say. Now in cabs I always look up, begging the dingy ceiling not to disappoint, words to fall from above, ones whose letters have arms that wrap around me, taunt me with taboo.

Thank You, El Viejo

The summer I worked on the farm
my heart crushed under the weight of
a teenage farmhand.
A white boy
bartered for my guilt,
stole my innocence
the way he’d steal an apple
from my hand.
In dust-covered jean shorts,
frayed edges flirting with skin,
I fit the part.
The Mexicans noticed me—
Ay, Chica, cuidado.

Even the ducks ignored it
as he pinned me to the dirt
between rows of cabbage that
El Viejo had just come over
to help me pick.

When Jane Harper is not reading or writing poems, she teaches high school students how to be passionate about reading and how to be compassionate toward people; and when she’s not doing that, she’s likely playing Monopoly with her seven-year-old stepson. (He usually wins.)

Copyright 2013  Chantarelle's Notebook