a poetry e-zine










Nancy Scott

The Hands of Joe Shanker

San Francisco


Bulbous nose, eyes set too wide, thick

brows, shadow of a beard that appeared

by four p.m. Sometimes, he told me,

he had to shave two or three times a day,

but his hands were something else.

Soft unmottled skin, tapered fingers

not blunt at the tips, nails carefully filed

and buffed, a swish of clear polish.

He wouldn’t shake hands.


I wanted a scar no matter how faint,

slightly swelled joint, hangnail,

some flaw, which could make me believe

the stories I’d heard that his hands

had supposedly strangled three women.



The Old Woman at the End of the Block


I was running out of time

so I decided to pay a visit

to the 103-year-old woman

who lived at the end of the block.

With measuring cup in hand,

I rang the doorbell, and asked,

Could you spare a year or two?

She invited me in for tea

and, while pouring Oolong

into chipped porcelain, said,

I could give up 1933.

It wasn’t a good year for me.

She hesitated.

No, I’ll give you 1956 instead,

a stellar year, and you look as if

you could use some luck.

We were chatting about

the weather and such, when

she leaned over and whispered,

If you need more time,

come see me again,

because after I’m dead,

what good is it then.

I thanked her profusely,

and, with cup filled to the brim,

I took my own sweet time home.


Nancy Scott is an artist and author of five books of poetry and managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, the journal of the U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative in New Jersey. Her most recent book, On Location (March Street Press, 2011), is a collection of poems about works of art from around the world. Her poetry is widely published in online and print journals and her artwork is frequently exhibited in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. www.nancyscott.net

Copyright 2012  Chantarelle's Notebook