A poem by Jim Zola

The only school in town is Catholic,
all girls, taught by nuns with long curved
fingernails and too much mascara.
Sister Brittani is rumored to sport
a tattooed stigmata and a cursive J
on her inner thigh. The boys in town
prop glassbrick walls and swap fish tales.
Barely puffed cigarette butts pile high
like monuments. Every other downtown
shop is for beauty. Grown men
are pool cleaners or muscled executives
in buttonless shirts. They grunt greetings,
scoop dirty water, shuffle papers, wait
for the women who are nurses,
secretaries and maids all laced
in innocence. They hide their sags
and sores until retirement. Then they move
to Jerkwater, where the big summer
event is a softball tournament
against the circus folks from Gibsonton.
Last year the half-girl pitched a perfect game.

Coming to Terms

A poem by Jim Zola

At night, once-dark windows flicker yellow light,
forcing me to imagine lives sadder than my own.

She wears pink fuzzy slippers. A dog bowl lost
in the corner. She believes in radio

romance. Her husband is dust gingerly moved
between crystal angels. She wonders why

I conjure her instead of a hootchie mama
in a snug slip eating buttered crackers,

dancing to the rhythm of her own sweet sway.
She imagines me across the mud shaven field,

the rabbit loved emptiness, this doom that connects us.