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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 11


Youse guys, I hear behind me at the theater,
nasal, long vowels.
Being twelve vivid again,
striking out from NYC for rock and roll,
Palisades Park, deejay Cousin Brucie,
strolling on stage in a leopard suit.

My goal is to interrupt Frankie Avalon’s
pre-show lunch—manicotti,
cheese melting into the tomato sauce,
Frankie with napkin tucked bib-style—
stray strutting my stuff
into the restaurant for an autograph
as if I own the place, but forgetting

to bring anything for Frankie to write on.
Your arm, my friend Joyce voices scorn,
would have been useful.
Frankie fumbles about
for paper, before the bulky manager grabs
my arm hard and drags me outside.
So, no, I don’t get the autograph.

Palisades Park Queens Manhattan
parallel universes in which I don’t get
everything I ask for, greedy waif.
Joyce says I’ll leave the planet
like that. Meanwhile, Frankie’s
still singing; in this culture,
nostalgia for crooners runs deep.

Every time I bite into manicotti,
I’m reminded how free it felt
as a child to roam unaccompanied,
how I didn’t need the autograph
anyway, and I still rely on luck, loath
to plan what to bring with me,
insistent on carrying a small purse.

Susana H. Case