Karen Kovacik

Page 3

My Mother the Monopolist
Queen of the needle, she always chose this tiny
silver silo as her token. Emblem of thrift,
no prodigal, it tap-tapped at even the swankest
addresses. She embroidered pillowcases with tulips
while she waited for my brother to get out of jail.
Her nightmare: a world without plumbing or light.
The first on the block to get a dishwasher,
she seized control of every faucet, every bulb,
and rapped her steel pinkie in triumph
when our rates went through the roof.
B & O
She smelled of Jean Natť bath salts and Russian musk,
maybe VO5 setting lotion or Dippity-Do.
Never Bacon & Onion, never Barnyard & Offal.
Yet she championed this reeking iron beast
that flattened our billfolds each time it crossed us.
Baltic Avenue
Forget Park Place, Boardwalk, or the luxury tax.
She always acquired the tawdry purple street
no one else wanted. Lovingly, she furnished it
with squat green bungalows and cheap hotels.
Many a red night, Dad blew his paycheck there.
When question marks assailed her like boomerangs,
she simply built more skyscrapers of pastel cash.
This was her metropolis: the sun a fluorescent ring
on plaster sky, while chili sweated on the stove.
She fanned herself with fifties, cool and blue.




Return to the Mother Tongue
(After a Month of Polish)

Iím back in my language, beyond the gilt
deckle of the kingsize dictionary,
past ďMay I?Ē and ďPlease.Ē Iíve cast off the silk
muzzle of sibilants, stopped rationing
words like rosary beads or martyring
myself on unforgiving verbs. Iím through
with ankle-length dresses, averted eyes.
Iím back to demanding, my tongue a burr
instead of a velvet-tipped begonia,
Iím back to bitchiness and bravado,
no sin or syntax too abstruse. So what
if I belch adjectives or spill nouns down
the front of my dress? Iím back to shooting
straight, cutting up, letting prepositions
fizz up over my glass to be savored
by my naked tongue. Iím back in English,
language that could never keep a budget,
language with a straining waistband, lover
of karaoke, maracas and borscht.
Iím back in Chicago, hallelujah!
Now I will talk you under the table,
now I will decide how long and how hard.

All poems from Metropolis Burning (Cleveland State, 2005.




© Copyright, Karen Kovacik.
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