Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 14
Spring 2016

[Two Poems]

by Deborah Allbritain

A Little Haunting

Tonight as I walk down the hall 
I think I smell Mom’s beloved Marlboros

wafting from our kitchen on Toledo Street, 
its tar-sweet curtains, waxed yellow cupboards 
blessed with smoke.

Mom, you’re dead, stop kidding around I say 
or else burst through the dark in sequins and blinding light, 
a white rose in your teeth.

After midnight dishes rattle 
and I figure she’s downstairs flipping 
pancakes in that adorable blue gingham, her page-boy curls 
shimmering against her tanned face—  

She knows it might kill me to actually see her standing there, 
smiling, pulsating like a saint between our two worlds 

which is why she keeps it simple: a whiff, a clang, 
proof that she’s still here.


The Birch Canoe Slid on Rough Planks

We talked of the side show in the circus, how a tame squirrel
could make a nice pet. What joy there is in living, he said

as the colt reared and threw the tall rider, a soft cushion breaking
the man’s fall. He ran half way to the hardware store, slush

lay deep along the street. The lease ran out in sixteen weeks,
and someone had to bail this boat, stop it from sinking. 

He slid the yacht around, pointed it to the bay. Me, I watched 
two blue fish swim in the tank, let this set of china hit 

the floor with a crash. Wipe the damn grease off your face I
told him, you and your damn squirrel. 

Ten pins were set in order. He lay prone and hardly moved a limb. 
Believe me, there were more than two factors here, grass

curled around the fence post, the salt breeze coming from the sea.
It’s easy to tell the depth of a well. Woman, 

just close the barn door tight, cut the pie into large parts, kick 
the ball straight and follow through.


SHJ Issue 14
Spring 2016

Deborah Allbritain

lives in San Diego, California where she continues to write, study, and teach poetry. Publications and awards include: The Antioch Review, The Cortland Review, The Taos Review, Michigan Review, Main Street Rag, Connecticut River Review, Cimarron Review, and Serving House Journal. Her poetry has been anthologized in Stand Up Poetry: The Anthology; The Unmade Bed (Harper Collins); The Book of Birth Poetry; and In the Palm of Your Hand (Tilbury House). In 2015, she received two Pushcart Prize nominations, and her poem “The Fire” was a finalist for the Wabash Poetry Prize.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury