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Saturday, May 1, 2004

Apparently yesterday was Poem on Your Blog Day & Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Poems in my pocket--no problem. I schlepped 5 manuscripts to the post office yesterday.

I did, technically, put a poem on my blog--several in fact--if you're counting my collaborative secret blog, which you aren't, because you can't find it.

So here, a day late, is a poem for this odd holiday, from a book plucked at random from the shelf then randomly riffled through:

Address to a Broom by Amy Gerstler

From Medicine

Away with your homely reproaches, your rough bundle of straw, wispy as

the blond mustache just visible above Mother's upper lip. I conjured

you to brush my sins into neat piles, to do my chores for me, soothe the

floorboards my cruel boots misuse. But what sweeps clean also shoves

dirt under the rug. You make flurries of all that has fallen, what should

be left to settle unmolested and decompose into grit: hairs from heads

I'd best forget, snippets of incriminating twine, skin flakes sloughed off

the hides of fair-weather friends, petals dropped by bruised corsages,

crumbs tumbled from indiscreet meals. Broom, you long, spindly arm

that collars us slobs; you're the shifty janitor's right hand, a witch's

steed, the neglected housewife's fox-trot partner, a scarecrow's backbone,

the hyperactive first grader's unbloodied sword. What did I unleash

when I unlocked your closet? Which magic words must I mumble to

put a stop to you? Dustbin, cookie tin, silver pin, can't win. Too many

brooms sweeping at once, scores of oars rowing me toward desert islands

swiped clean of sand. Broom, you and your smug, wet-headed cousins

the mops must halt this whisking industry. Quit fingering my debris.

Abandon your flat-footed accomplice the dustpan. No more of your stiff

justice, your rigid peasant cleanliness, you poker of cobwebs, destroyer

of the nests of honest wasps. You're a ragged bird's nest lashed to a

branch, poor impersonator of a bouquet. I'd sooner lick up what sul-

lies the linoleum each day than listen to your faint, scraping accusations

or your bristly whispering ever again.

Was writing about Cinderella yesterday, so this is fitting. And reminds me of our neighbor in Long Island City, Queens. We called him the Titanic Man. He owns the house on 11th Street that sports a memorial to the great ship on the facade, replete with plastic flowers, waving flags, plaster cherubs, and sometimes music. It's made it into some Japanese tourist guide, so frequently you'd see a dark car pull up, spill its camera-clad crew. They'd take snaps and read everything, pile back into the car and leave. What has this to do with brooms? Well, Titanic Man kept our block spotless. Almost every morning he swept the entire length of our sidewalk--especially if they'd filmed Third Watch the day before (the station facade was a building on the corner)--including the stoops. When he finished that, sometimes on a Saturday when he felt extra industrious, he'd sweep the street. All four lanes plus parking spots and median. I can't count the mornings when his whisking woke me through the open window.

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