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Liz Dolan

About the Poet
Liz Dolan’s second poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, which is seeking a publisher, was nominated for the Robert McGovern Prize. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, was published by March Street Press.

A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of The Best of the Web, she has also won an established artist fellowship in poetry and two honorable mentions in prose from the Delaware Division of the Arts. She recently won The Nassau Prize for prose.

Her nine grandkids live one block away from her. They pepper her life.

Fall 2012 Poems »
meditation at the Easton luncheonette

after checking out a Steiglitz
at the museum and rare books
in a shop he knows the girl
behind the counter is a real find
she fingers singles
in the register, dallies where
he eats grilled crab cakes
she smiles shyly flashes
a gold tooth he checks out
the silver arrow slipping between her breasts

--two roads diverged in a yellow wood--

he’s twice her age
but the way her tight ass brushes
the edge of the sink
as she slides past the
stainless steel stove
and the way she tops his coffee
once too often makes him forget

they screw on the silver stool
he takes her
on the counter she carves her initials
with her polka-dotted fingernails
into his bare back

Brubeck Takes Five along the Chesapeake
the sails of their blue-hulled skiff huff

cash or credit she says
he spins out of his stool leaves rye
crusts and a tip on the plate
sticks a tooth pick between his teeth


She Couldn’t Do Enough for Him

She pressed a razor-sharp crease
into his softest jeans, cut his bacon                          
into mouth-sized bites, planted
a fig tree in his garden and served him
its baubles on peeled birch bark.                    
In autumn she brought him burnished
persimmons rescued from frost.
When he split one open
she licked its juice from his fingers.

Yet when he was afflicted he crawled             
into a corner like a whining whelp, closed the door
behind him. She pined in the hall
her fingers gripping the embossed brass knob,
her ear against the oak door. She closed
..............................................the windows
to silence the pealing bells. She became a woman
whose footfalls made no din.


Double Despair

In pre-dawn glare her father
paces from bedroom to kitchen to stair

shuns the garage where she hanged herself,
thinks of whiskey and beer again, of torching the house.

As he stares into the fridge
and its light pearls the room

he cups the small heads
of shelved condiments

and even though he kens
God’s bottomless well of mercy

he still fears old lessons. He thinks
of the day they adopted her

and of the day she careened
her first bike down the endless steps

and of the endless jobs and endless men
and endless calls and the call he missed

ending it all. She appears to her father
as lost and as restless in death

as she was in life and even though
Our Father’s sea swells many boats,

he fears she will always be adrift, calling.


The Spelling Lesson

Teach your brother to spell
Sister Caritas said.
So each night Michael and I
15 months apart, sparred
at the enamel table over
i before e and double b’ s.

How I relished folding up
my sleeves like Sister,
tossing my braids
as if they were a veil
and stabbing his decieve,
occassion and bubles
with my red pen.
He’d rip the papers to shreds
and toss them in the air like confetti.
You dumb ox, I’d hiss.
Ass kisser, he’d sneer.

Today through a trach,
my brother spits out guttural syllables.
His left side is paralyzed.
When I massage his neck
and shoulders I test him:
Where are my fingers
here, here or there?


~ Liz Dolan
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