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Chairs in an Album

Six cream chairs back-to-back

and three brown ones

because there weren’t enough cream ones

to go round; ten of us girls

waiting for the music to whip

dervish into legs or drop dejected

after a skipped rest beat


Jennifer always charmed the boys

her petticoats whirling in the dash

or caught folding one suddenly bared

leg over a flash of white underwear.

And there I am, back row, standing,

not forgotten only by the camera,

pouting, hands clasped behind my back


Here’s Cheryl,  I turn the pages

wishing her into non-existence

but she keeps re-appearing: at the

church picnic, on a river cruise,

her bottle curls perfect little come-ons.

I permed my hair into wire tangles

it didn’t help, nothing did against Cheryl.

I’d slash my wrists for her upturned

look of innocence


Yolanda married some marine who’d

been a chef on an aircraft carrier,

I’d dated him once or twice but he

smelled like garlic powder and shuffled

in his size ten boots.  Afterwards they

opened a chic restaurant; he does

the nouvelle cuisine thing, she decorates

the plates in fashionable squiggles


There’s Beth – that’s me! Still wandering

around, somehow not quite part of it all,

the perennial ornithologist, watching the

birds dance, jotting things down, listening

to her own music.  A little jealous perhaps

but, you know, those chairs don’t seem so

sittable-on any more

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© Johnmichael Simon



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