“If” by Roz Levine


If Marsha hadn’t wanted to find a new love
If she hadn’t wanted to go it alone
To the Young Democratic Party meeting
If she hadn’t asked me to simmer down
With so many romances on high flame in my life
If you hadn’t been at the entryway
Sweet smiling at all the beautiful ladies
If I hadn’t been wearing the cranberry sweater set
Made of cashmere so soft to the fingers
If I hadn’t curled my black Veronica Lake locks
Brushed them a hundred times to high shine
If I hadn’t silly smiled at you when you called me Florence
And I said my name was Rosalind
If we hadn’t laughed at how funny that was
How you thought it was so cool
To watch me sign my name
And you read my chicken scrawl all wrong
And we roared ourselves into a bowl of howls
If you hadn’t looked so hot and handsome
In that beautiful fitting gray sharkskin suit
If your body hadn’t been so lean and mean
If you hadn’t found me at City College
Twenty-four hours after we’d met
If your kisses hadn’t been so delicious
If your tongue hadn’t brought me to hot, hot, hot
If you hadn’t smelled so damn good
Looked so mighty damn fine
Acted so utterly damn charming
If you hadn’t worn an ascot
On our first date together
If you hadn’t said you loved me
Ten days after we met in Manhattan
If you hadn’t asked me to marry you
If we hadn’t married eleven weeks later
If we hadn’t honey combed two terrific daughters
And two awesome grand daughters
If you hadn’t filled my life with adventure
Encouraging me to yes, yes, yes
When I wanted to nip and tuck
All our seams to no, no, no
If we hadn’t survived heart disease
Cancers, diabetes, chronic pains
Surgery after surgery after surgery
If you hadn’t said write, write, write
You’re a writer, by god, you are
If Marsha hadn’t sweet talked me
To attend that political soiree
How would I have savored so much joy
The forty-six years we’ve been together?

Roz Levine

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish

© 2010

“This Life” by Jack Grapes

Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher

My wife is getting dressed,

rushing off to see her clients.

She puts a top on that comes down past her navel,

barely covering her pubic hair.

But when she sits on the bed to pull up socks,

the chemise rises up, exposing hair between her legs.

She puts one leg up, resting her heel on the bed’s edge.

Her legs a few inches apart.

Her pubic hair and mound clearly visible.

It’s enough.

This altar. This sacred, secret, sanctified,


I stop by the TV and ask her

when she’s coming home,

do I pick up Josh today,

are we going to David & Gina’s for dinner on Saturday,

should I get bread and milk at J-Market

or what?

“What,” she says.

I’m talking, she’s got her head down working on the sock,

no, I think it’s panty hose or tights,

something like that,

something complicated that requires her full attention

I’m talking but I’m really looking at her pubic hair, her sacred

whatchamacallit, that is . . . . and is not . . . . her,

the embodiment of everything,

the symbol of nothing but itself.

This is when . . . . I think . . . . maybe not . . . . but probably so.

this is when I love her the most,

when she’s putting on socks, half-naked,

paying little attention to me.

“What?” she says.

She’s not even listening to me.

“Should I pick up Josh,” I say,

“and what about the bread and milk?”

Actually, I’m not really talking to her, either.

I’m looking at her pussy

while she struggles with this complicated long sock or something,

her head down, working it fold by fold past her heel

and ankle, then up the calf, over the knee,

up the thigh, finally standing

and jumping up and down, small little jumps,

as she tugs the last part above her pubic hair,

above the navel.

She rims the elastic with her thumb,

gives it a snap, then looks up at me,

finally. She gives her head a shake,

straightening her hair for her clients,

getting all neat and composed and psychotherapeutic,

her sacred whatchamacallit covered by a gauze curtain,

and in a minute, by the dress.

I’m looking at her,

thinking of that Grecian pottery

where Aphrodite rises from the sea,

her sandstone naked body

gravely and glistening in its classical flesh.

“What?” she asks.

“Do I pick up Josh today?”

“Yeah. Is that okay?”


We stand there, holding everything

unsaid that seems to float along with the dust motes

made visible finally by the first light of the morning

coming through the blinds.

When you coming home?” I ask.


“Don’t forget my class starts at 7.”

“I won’t.”

Then she’s off, rushing from one room to another,

grabbing necessities.

I catch up to her at the door.

She kisses me.

I kiss her back. A little piece of sweet lip

in her sweet breath. I keep my eyes open

so I can see her face close-up.

“Love you,” I say.

“Love you, too.”

I stand on the front steps and watch her

get in the car, buckle-up, start the engine,

make a U-turn and come to a stop at the stop sign

at our corner. I walk to the mailbox

on the corner and give a little wave.

She sees and waves back,

then pushes off for her day, her clients.

I have things to do, too.

Have to xerox poems for my students, my fellow poets.

The sun’s not out yet; by noon, the clouds’ll break,

and it’ll be a sunny day,

and the sun will shine

on my wife and on my students

and on this blessed, sacred, sanctified life.

Jack Grapes

© 2010