Poetry by Ruth Z. Deming


We got here early, helping ourselves
to the barbeque wings and that
sticky-marvelous Ranch dressing, the wife
taking off for the kitchen, but not
before I give her a pat on her soft
bee-hind, still my woman after
-what? – 31 years, one
miscarriage and two live ones
leaving their daddy and mama
to go up north, hell knows why

Bobby! Another Coors and
he plops it on the little silver coaster
with the ducks flying away
I pat my belly, hardly bigger than
on my wedding day, back at
Camp LeJeune, I’m a lineman,
climb those poles for Verizon and
Man, have I seen some things!
Squirrels fried to a crisp – they eat them here
in Houston, but not me, no sirree – but I
love my job, refuse to make more dough
and be a boss – I’m just a member of the
team, like Manning and Sherman – wonder
how many folks are gonna name their kid
Peyton? That’s Americans for you. God bless

Sure I voted for Obama, in fact we’re talking
about him now, his State of the Union Speech
last Tuesday, the boys say he promised us
everything and delivered us nothing, but, hell,
he’s a good man, got us outa one war; I lay
down my life and the lives of my family in the
Invasion of whoever heard of Grenada?

Oh, the letters they wrote. Dad, I go down on
my knees and pray for you every night, Your
darling daughter Mona. I brought the family
bible and read Thy rod and thy staff they
comfort me. But after all these years I ain’t
told no one this, but you’re all alone in the

All alone.

I put three twenties on the coffee table next
to the salted Planters and tiny rings of
pretzels. “The Seahawks,” I say stringing
some pretzels thru my fingers.

So! I say taking a long sip of the icy-
cold Coors. Let’s take up the God question
what do you think?

You serious, Johnny? We
just dismantled your president bone by bone
and now you want to discuss the Creator?

Laughter and the wife comes out of the kitchen,
her dyed blond hair and green swinging
earrings lookin good. Babe, c’mon sit here
on your ole man’s lap. Why, you’re just plain
drunk, she laughs and plops that soft ass
on my legs and gives me a nice smooch on
the lips.

How many more minutes? asks Rodge, in the
swiveling purple chair, wearing an A & M

Tee-off, says the wife, is in sixteen minutes.
Kick-off, I mean.


The fenced-in yard
was black with birches
and pines that
whisked the sky.
zoomed up stilts
waiting for the quiver
of arrival.

All this from the kitchen window,
my first visit with Simon’s kin,
postponed as long as I dared.
Then one day we dressed
and went.

His sister Dot
welcomed me,
the woman who saved her brother
from the shudder of divorce.
I moved around the kitchen
with great familiarity,
spotting in the corner
a plastic bowl
stuck with the last bits
of untasted meat.
Oh, laughed Dot, untying her apron,
Old Suze never finished her lunch,
and told me in high-pitched trills
where to find her,
the cat they rescued from a
turnpike rest stop
the year Ron put in
the elms.

I walked across the
living room
the sofa and chairs
curved like motionless dolphins
waiting for something to happen
and parted the gauzy curtains.
There she was,
Miss Suze,
reclining in the sun,
poised as a woman in furs.
She quivered at my arrival.

Back in the den,
the room where they lived,
bowls of pretzels
and salted nuts had been
set out on the coffee table,
my ginger ale
freshened and
replaced on its coaster.

Ron, the planter of trees,
lay sunk in the blue shine
of his recliner,
an architectural wonder
supporting the man
and his white newsboy shorts.
The company he worked for,
going on forty-one years,
had forgotten how to make money.
Ron was calm, telling us how
nothing worked anymore.
The bankers hovered like crows.

Ron was a fisherman,
visiting rocky shores and
sand-filled slopes, walking
alone in cold misty waters
where fingers froze,
cramped shut like claws.
And wore those waders.

I asked Ron what waders were.
Like overalls, he said.
You pull them up past your waist, then
wade through the water dry.

I imagined Ron
pulling on his extra-large
waterproof trousers,
soft as deerskin leggings,
carrying him,
and his legs, dry as fish bones,
into the
dimly lit
waters of
night become morning.


About Ruth Z. Deming

Ruth Z. Deming, a runner-up poet laureate of Montgomery County, PA, has had her work published in Bellowing Ark, Metazen, River Poets, and other venues. She runs a writers’ group in her hometown of Willow Grove, PA to force her to write.