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Paul David Adkins

Paul David Adkins grew up in South Florida and lives in New York, a rare species of reverse snowbird.

Grandmother, Sylvia Plath and the 1909 Detroit Tigers

Since she was born that year,
it made sense for me at six
to ask if Grandmother recalled
the 1909 Detroit Tigers, how Ty Cobb
slugged his way to the pennant.

I was born in ‘62.
For one month Plath and I
shared this world of cries and hunger,
weather and life.

Will a grandson ask
if I met her,
touched her, saw her read
before she snapped in the wind
of a British winter?

I wanted to know.
Will we remember
what our children care about––
smell of grass or crack of the bat,
a woman three rows down
distracted, yawning, asleep.

 

“Pistol Pete” Maravich Died Doing What He Loved

Shooting hoops, he stumbled,
tumbled to the court.

He died doing what he loved,

which would be true
if his matter started swirling mid-dribble
like flakes in a snow globe,
friends shouting––
Beam him up!

He collapsed like a pressed thumb puppet,
bounced his head on hardwood
because his heart yanked the plug of his life
from his body.

He gasped, vomited.

This was not
what he loved,

dying on a cold floor,
suffering his teammates’ awkward CPR
and frantic rescue breathing,

confusing angels with overhead fluorescent tubes.

The basketball he mastered
rolled from his convulsing palm

so easily away.

War Story #136: Flying Over Baghdad with

Rachel Contreni Flynn’s Poetry

Did she sense
her work would fly
inside a screaming bird
above a broken city?

I spotted stacks of bricks
below. She feared bodies lay
heaped on brick piles
dusted with Chicago snow.

The piles contain no dead.
Here it never snows.

I will not be sad –

though birds still scream
and fevered rotors drum like kettles
sealed with taut and beaten hide.

 

The Water Towers of Watertown, New York

When she crested a hill and spied the town,
its mass of low-slung churches,
jumbled brownstone valleys,
water towers rising
like seven flags planted on the moon,

she got the idea
of making love beside each base,
one per night all week.

Monday night she drove him to the tower by the school –
Watertown Pride – Home of the Cyclones!
His Why are we here?
crushed by a kiss.

Tuesday by the lumberyard,
the dews of heaven
dripped inside their windshield.

Wednesday.

Thursday within sight
of the Jefferson County School Bus depot.

Friday afternoon, before they parked
by the red and white
beside the airport,
they rented a convertible.

“What Will You Do to End Women’s Suffrage?”

— British Suffragist Christabel Pankhurst agonized over the term “suffrage” to acquire votes for women.  She decided to forgo using the word as it suggested to “ . . . some unlettered or jesting folk the idea of suffering. ’Let them suffer away! –’ we had heard the taunt.” Currently, gag video street interviews show male pollsters encouraging unwitting women respondents to sign petitions calling for an end to women’s suffrage.

 

We heard the taunts
but have forgotten.

We endured the cracks
but now we laugh –
Of course, end women’s suffrage!

The boors laugh, too –
Of course!

It is pointless to point out
months we spent in prison,
truncheons we endured, cracks
to arm and rib.

How bobbies advanced to meet us,
bent our thumbs back,
drove us to our knees –
I’ll give you suffering!

Now grinning boys approach
with cameras and microphones,
clipboards and pens.

And women press forward
with smiles
one could never confuse
with grimacing,
with pain.

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