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Phyllis Jean Green: Two Poems
Milk Train Number III | Child's Eye

Milk Train Number III

Daddy got the car
so I rode the milk train
back, back, back, back, back,

There is no lonelier sound.

The car was all mine
except for a soundless hooker
and the man she . . . ugh.

Bourbon had to be cheap.

Breathing smoke, I stared
through soot and smut
at towns so small, they passed away

before I could look. Shades
once yellow woke
to reveal their shadows

across stubble and macadam.
That narrow excuse for a road.
People have so much trouble,

I thought. My cigarette
measled the glass as
a car oozed past ticktack

the size of my nicotined hand.
The sky was the color of Christmas
in the apartment Mother and I shared.

The people were asleep
or died in the night.
Someone please carry the body

to the city when it's light.
Speaking of broke, those prefabs
meant to box commuters

remind me of home.
I pulled the last Lucky Strike
out of a crushed and wrinkled pack.

No dogs prowled.
No toys littered.
No sound but the morning train

pulling and pulling.

Child's Eye

The house I live in
is full of furniture
that nobody sits on.
They have too much to do.
Like shout.

The house where I stay
hasn't got enough chairs.
The spiggot is busted.
The porch is called a stoop.
A collector poked his nose in
the screen and my keeper
made him a pie.
It was rhubarb.

The house I live in
takes up the whole block.
Its shutters and door-glass have drawings.
The room they call mine has priscillas
next to a Nieman Marcus spread.
My rug is a gunned-down bear.
A taxi-somebody cut off his skin
so people could walk on him.
The nightlight shows I'm scared.

The house where I stay
could use paint and a hammer
At least we have flour, my keeper says.
"Go borrow a spoonful of cinnamon
and I'll bake us a pie."
Soon we'll have snails.
They steam up the kitchen.
The smell has a taste. Butter, sugar,
salt, lard. Flour builds snowdrifts.
I need meat on my bones, she says.
She's rolling more!

The house I live in
has a patch on its dining room
where a frying pan hit.
He threw back a pot of geraniums
and they broke their necks.
Roses bouquet a lace-covered table
and a belt hangs on a door
that makes the top of my legs bleed
before it starts on Brother
until the doorbell sings that a lady
in a hat and a circle of diamonds
wants mother at the club.

The house where I stay
has mice. Scraggled marigolds
smell up the inch-wide yard.
I like to watch her iron.
She wears funny round glasses
and the same dumb dress.
Puffs her cheeks like a squirrel
as steam comes from her hums.

The house I live in
gets the police called
because Brother and I yelled.
Come again and we'll get skinned.
They know we're rotten liars.
This town is one big nose.
"Go to your rooms! NOW!"

The house where I stay
has curtains sewed from sacks.
You wash your hair with soap.
The floor rides up, then down.
A big fan blows her hair
to frizz as she fattens a long white sleeve.
I watch the curls from the iron
while I cut out shapes.
We'll clean up the mess sometime.
The iron hisses Yessssssssss.

The house I live in is sold.
It is time some of us moved.
Can I stay at the falling house? I ask.
Brother says nobody hears.
I'd say it again, but the shouts.

Poet's Biography:
Phyllis Jean Green is an Illinois native born of southern squabblers who split too late. She is the author of Spinning Straw: the Jeff Apple Story, from Diverse City Press, and the associate editor for L' She has had several hundred poems published both in print and on the Internet, most recently in L'Intrigue, Writings, Tidings & Voices, Bluewater Journal, and Sulphur River Literary Review. She has also published a number of experimental fictions in Eratica, Black Ice,and Generator.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.