“Jello” by C. Jean Pearlstein

Jean playing her banjo

Daddy and I sit in the small nook in the linoleum kitchen
Grandma sets our dinner down on the small table
She’s smiling, damp wisps of curly light brown hair curl around her angel face.
We enjoy our dinner, and then she brings the dessert.

It’s Jell-O, green, with big air holes, rubbery like chewing gum
Daddy takes a bite, explodes in a rage
Name calling, berating
Grandma starts crying, slips down onto the floor, weeping.
We take her to Union Station, she gets on the train, waves goodbye, and goes back to St. Louis.

I’m sitting alone in the open army surplus jeep, it’s dark out in the night stars
And cold, and I’m hungry, shivering
Daddy’s in the market buying Franco-American spaghetti, and liver to fry with onions
And condensed canned milk for me to drink
I’m so alone, no one knows, not even me.

C. Jean Pearlstein

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish

© 2010


  1. Lordy · May 22, 2010

    “Condensed canned milk”…………..A childs life in a can!!! Brilliant just brilliant…

    • Jean · May 23, 2010

      Thank you, so glad you liked it!

  2. lkthayer · May 22, 2010

    Jean, I love your writing & this poem. So sharp, simple & profoundly moving. Thank you for sharing & love your banjo playing!! – Lisa 🙂

    • Jean · May 23, 2010

      Thanks, Lisa, and thanks for taking and posting the photo–fun!

  3. Roz Levine · May 23, 2010

    You captured a moment so well. And the ending, it just killed me.
    Love your music, too.

    • Jean · May 23, 2010

      Thanks Roz, we really do move each other in wondrous ways.

  4. alexis Rhone Fancher · May 23, 2010

    Terrific poem! Terrific writer. And that banjo!!!

  5. Jean · May 23, 2010

    We play each other’s emotional instruments, we’re all musicians with our words. Your latest piece–the image of the mirror has stayed with me and was so moving.

  6. Adesh Kaur · May 26, 2010

    O Jean, This is my most favoritest poem ever!!! It hurts to read it. You are amazing. Thank you.

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