Two Poems: 'Nabs' and 'Boiled Potatoes'

These two poems are from my unpublished manuscript American Art, completed in early 2018. The book is organized around the concept of galleries the way a museum has rooms or galleries with artworks on display. 



Each time I open a package of hazard-orange crackers,

I think first of my mother, Doris, who called them “Nabs,”

And then of myself as a college freshman between classes,

Feeding a vending machine. My wife says food that color

Must be toxic. Now, it’s mother-in-law Mary with snacks

Fit for a brown bag, day pack, or school lunch box:

My sorry choice, wrapped in cellophane weeks ago,

Loud like Longhorn Cheddar, glazed with peanut butter.

I chomp on what I shouldn’t want, stubborn as my dad,

Who refused to see a dentist till he didn’t need his teeth.


Boiled Potatoes

“Start the potatoes at five-thirty,” my father would tell me

At ten past five when he left our house to drive downtown

To pick up Mum at the women’s clothing store. Tonight,

I’m home with our dog while my wife is at Mass. General

Hospital seeing her mother’s new knee. She took our boy

To Boston on his first train ride, telling me to start boiling

The potatoes at five-thirty because she would be back at

Six with her dad and aunt for supper, which we eat together

On hospital days. There’s thunder in the late day breeze.

Mum used to say, “When the leaves turn over, rain is due.”