I studied with Billy Collins July 2013 in the Southampton Writers Conference on Long Island. I live with my husband, three children and two orange cats in Buffalo, NY where I teach creative writing and composition at Erie Community College. When I'm not running, I'm writing. My two chapbooks include My Daughter Wears Her Evil Eye to School (The Writer's Den, 2015) and Chamber Music (Finishing Line Press, 2013).
after Seamus Heaney
When all the others were still at school,
he was all mine as we peeled Macintoshes.
Quiet apple of my eye, he figured out
the old-fashioned machine, turning the crank
while I sliced the product of his labor,
waiting in a bowl of clean water.
We absorbed the kitchen’s perfect silence,
working in beautiful tandem,
except for simple splashes. Like Halloween.
Bobbing for apples, he laughed.
We turned to the stovetop to boil
the gleaming fruit. I dare not add sugar.
Wish every recipe were this easy.
A kiss of cinnamon, the only addition.
Chicken Soup with Orzo
Peel the carrots, slice the celery,
boil the organic chicken,
so all the tender slices fall gracefully
off the bone like glistening snowflakes.
Toss the carcass to the wolves.
I stir this pure, unadulterated soup.
No aluminum aftertaste.
So pure, I forget the bouillon cubes,
but the flavor’s not timid.
Homemade soup cleanses a brutal cough,
melts any shameless slight,
comforts any feckless doubt.
The pot expects slender noodles,
yet I pour orzo like grains of wedding rice
into the boiling broth. A surprise celebration.
But you’ll never sit on my kitchen stool again,
never taste this bowl of good karma,
no matter how much your soul craves it.
These long November afternoons,
I wish you could pay your respects to the chef,
show your satisfaction, slurp after golden slurp.
Mangoes on the Midway
The audacity to believe in
two perfect figure 8’s
atop a buttercream cake--
I’m exactly halfway there.
Here at this cotton candy carnival of life,
strolling the Coney Island midway,
I inhale kettle corn air,
watch the tan, ponytailed vendor
carve flores de mangos on a stick.
She blesses these glistening blossoms
with salt and chili pepper before
serving them from her metallic altar.
Juice dripping down my chin,
I offer a playful Peter-Pan grin.
Celery-Colored Waiting Room
Crunchy yet soothing,
celery hardly tastes like anything at all,
always accompanies hot wings —
takes the edge off fiery sauce.
I sit here waiting in what could be
a fancy spa’s locker room —
celery walls lined with teakwood leaves,
in half-length paper gown —
for softest tissue to be squished
into tightest clamp.
Glass jar half full of Hershey Kisses.
One patient summoned countlessly
from her chair for more images.
Finally, she’s escorted
to the other side of the building,
but they won’t say oncology.
Stoic as Jacqueline Kennedy,
she purses her ruby lips.
I unwrap a silver chocolate,
quickly pop it in my mouth,
so much sweeter than celery.
©2016 Lisa Wiley
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