When Zoe Doesn't Know Her Mom Is Dying
There is nothing new to dying.
The faces of those who watch are the same,
the eyes are the same, the mouth;
it’s all the same.
There is no surprise to the things we ask of
one another - or the simple task of washing
your hands, turning the sound on louder...
That still happens and all the birds still fly, you still
collect your mail. Someone will bite their lip.
You will ask how they can manage to, later,
when it's over.
You will wonder, to yourself, how the whole world
just carries on their small talk,
their coffee sipped,
those wandering pennies in their bag.
How can the regular things still happen when
your soul is lost in this black space so wide,
Wider than wide.
When you've lost your soul.
The children will wait for you at the foot of your bed
and they will sing the silly tunes from yesterdays
But you will be okay with that,
as you have taught them much, much more.
You have taught them everything.
Any Random Tuesday
Children walk alone from long bricks of houses
against the grainy streets and recycle bins.
They look up sideways all the time,
the chewing gum and pizza money,
their long breath of this and that;
they can’t put their finger on it.
He rolled around in that tire-swing twisting it
and she pushed it hard.
Too hard I thought as I looked through the bus window.
He could fly straight up you know?
No one cares as they slide along the street,
with their bags of bruised fruit and ill fitting bras.
I knew someone whose three kids walked home 6 blocks each day;
12 together roped arm in arm a daisy chain.
They were good, though.
Nothing ever happened.
A poem in 12 parts
I could have used more time with the one
in the first row.
She wore the flowered blouse the first day
and spent twenty-one minutes chopping angry words
into sentences on her phone.
She drank three cups of coffee before
the first names were called.
I kept looking for hers amid the Russian and Polish ones.
I will take attendance today but tomorrow it's your responsibility.
The man in the brown suit the first day
wore jeans the next, and brought his lunch
in a small NY Telephone Company insulated lunch bag.
He read 5 newspapers and left them all on the seat
each time with his apple core.
If you live anywhere near 161st where the crime happened
you need to excuse yourself.
Jose, who sat next to me on day one, didn't fill out
the E- section beforehand so I gave him my pen
but I didn't rub hand sanitizer all over myself like everyone
around me in that furious Bronx ritual.
The sneakers on the telephone wire really show how many
murders on that street, but yeah, it can mean drugs are sold
around here too, I've heard that.
Dawn's name got called each time mine did;
she fell asleep after underlining sentences in yellow
from a worn-out paperback textbook.
The Spanish lady with the shopping bags asked her why
she came since she was a student.
Dawn said she was pre-law so it was cool.
If anyone in your family, or yourself, has been involved
with law enforcement, or if you are a full-time student,
you can be excused.
The charger girl plugged her phone in nine times
in two days and had small bags of nuts and seeds.
Her phone wallpaper was Alfred E. Newman.
She was cooler than the guy who sat next to her
who coughed into his National Enquirer
for sixteen minutes on the first day, even more
on the second.
I can tell you that this case is about an attempted murder
but he is not guilty yet. Do any of these names sound familiar?
You must excuse yourself if they do.
The Indian woman kept looking at the table with the
laughing women and moved her chair closer to listen better.
She bought hot chocolate from the machine
and sour patch kids that were stale.
She gave me a 'thumbs down' as she tossed them.
You get two hours for lunch and no, you do not get reimbursed,
Please be back on time.
No one knew what to think of the woman with all the
tote bags. She asked a few of us when she gets
her check for this.
When does this money actually come.
She wrung her hands a lot and stared at the Orange girl.
If your employer pays you, then we will not. If your employer does
not pay you, we will. Please fill out your address correctly on the back.
Do not separate the sections.
Orange girl with glasses was a throw-back to every day-camp friend
I had with fire hair and knee-length skirts.
I figure she lives in Riverdale where you can imagine it's not
the Bronx but when they call your name
you belong here anyway.
If I can't pronounce your name because it's foreign,
help me out here, will ya?
The man with the yellow shirt had 'follow eyes' that
spent most of the first day wondering where I went.
Behind the door/across the wide open cold air of
strangers faces. His eyes always found mine.
You don't need to say you were a victim of a crime, just kindly
state that you had intimate involvement with law enforcement.
Yes, thank you, like that.
He must have been an accountant spent both days with his
calculator punching in figures,
and then making calls outside the room.
He looked at his watch each time the next group was called
as though he calculated the space in-between the space.
If you waited until today to get excused then I am sorry but you will be here
for the remainder as you have not followed directions
and you are too late.
The two middle-aged Hispanic men with the tee shirts
and bags of Starbucks,
fast-friended themselves into the corner and conspired
in broken English non-stop. Magically called together
and released - they traveled, four arms, down the ramp,
around and around.
It is a privilege and an honor to be asked to serve your country,
and we thank you for your cooperation, and time.
Stephanie postponed three years in a row; didn't have space
for fitting this into the repeated noise of her life.
What is a hardship; how long will it take for me to
bare my soul out of here. My kids need me.
I have no carfare for this nonsense.
Thank you for your service. You have completed your duty,
here is your proof and don't come back tomorrow.
Remember, do not come back tomorrow.
No Vuelvas Manana.
About Amy Soricelli
Amy Soricelli has been in the field of career education and staffing for over 30 years. A lifelong Bronx resident, she has been published in Grub Street, Camelsaloon, Versewrights, The Starving Artist, Picayune Press, Deadsnakes, Corvus review, Deadbeats, Cantos, Poetrybay, The Blue Hour Magazine, Empty Mirror, Turbulence magazine, Bloodsugar Poetry, Little Rose magazine, The Caper Journal, CrossBronx, Long Island Quarterly, Blind Vigil Review, Isacoustic, Poetry Pacific, Underfoot, Picaroon Poetry, Vita Brevis, as well as several anthologies. Nominated for Sundress Publications "the best of the net" award 6/13, and recipient of Grace A. Croff Memorial Award for Poetry, Herbert H. Lehman College, 1975.