the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




FOUR WORKS
BY MARJORIE ORDENE

A PINCH OF QUEENS

A scarlet apple in the lapel of your navy blazer
That looks so soft but feels like burlap
Your hair pulled back tight in a ponytail
Stretching the roots

Your belly pressing against mine
Keeping us apart when we hug
The gaps between your teeth
As you pull back your lips
To show me your stitches-
Grey gums
Embedding blue nylon threads

Fat hands and fingers
Bare feet in loafers
A clarinet voice with just a pinch of Queens
When you say "Yeeahs"
"It's been yeeahs and yeeahs."

Dimples above a grizzled beard
A little nose, your best feature

Patience, my dear, you must have patience.

================
SOUL RETURNS

My soul returns to me
In the morning
Massaged by flannel dreams.

Stretching my eyes
In a red-brick garden
Thoughts come knocking.
I kick them aside
Twenty times with each foot.

Drumming asphalt
They pursue me
Like a sewn-on shadow.

Hours later, my soul is fast asleep
While my mind sits in a swivel chair
Counting.

================

Jelly Roll

Crisp crackling static
Like popcorn in a popper.
And Jelly Roll's piano
Hopping between the pops.

Saul, tanned and hale
Leaning forward on the church pew couch
To light a cigarette.
We both inhale.

Old clanky music
Rising from the pyramid speakers
My legs bouncing
Bouncing to the blues.

"Never had one woman at a time
Always had six, seven, eight, or nine."

================

HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR
 (Ida Eisenstadt, liberated from Bergen Belsen, 1945)

I try to bury the traumas
But they won't stay buried.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday-
The handyman promised to come.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday-
No show up

I simply cannot account.

I had a terrible burning
In my esophagus
So I ran away from home.
I rode the number five bus
All night long
From Washington Heights
To Greenwich Village.
I avoided everyone-
they shouldn't sit next to me.

Alfia is my angel.
We'll confront him together.

I simply cannot account.