From “Mr. Lawrence Hellerman's Vacation”
by Nona Caspers
Mr. Lawrence Hellerman's brain is yawning against the slick coat of drugs they give him to sleep. His mind moves like a glacier sliding south, leaving odd deposits on the landscape: a shoe burning in the fire, the eyes of deer like a trail of turds. Work boots, hunting knives, bird feeders, the entrails of ducks and geese and quail. Squirrel bones. Mrs. Hellerman falls out in a soft chunk.
His father, Bernard, deaf, hairless, inebriated, slides out the side through a tunnel: as soon as he's gone the upper half of the glacier collapses onto the still hard roving bottom. Mr. Hellerman's children are trapped in there: his first born smiling and wearing a peach graduation dress with matching shawl; the three boys hunched over cigarettes behind the barn; the baby girl in a white apron; the baby boy juggling footballs. The unborn are there too, at the very bottom, scraping against his cranium.
Today is Mr. Hellerman's last day at the hospital; Mrs. Hellerman and the boys have been milking without him for two weeks. Tomorrow morning at eight o'clock his daughter, a humanities major at the city university, will pick him up and drive two hours south to deposit him in the living room of his father's father's farmhouse. Mr. Hellerman will nap before evening milking time. He will sterilize the milk machine, check the cows' udders for swells.
But today Mr. Hellerman is not a farmer, and all he has to do is pack.
The sun is a bright yellow winter sun. Lemons from Southern California, where he's never been.
He sits on his hospital bed, slowly packing the objects he will take home with him. Objects he did not take from home to the hospital: a glass owl you hang from a string in the window. A potholder. A birdhouse with “The Hellerman's” engraved on the roof. A gray and white lap blanket he wove (the yarn soothed his fingers) the first week he was here. Mr. Hellerman wraps the owl in Kleenex from his bed stand; he wraps the other items in newspaper and tucks them carefully inside the blanket at the top of his suitcase.
“Go to Your Room”
by Daisy Fried
In her observatory, her little red room,
the daughter sings “Do Ya Think I'm Sexy”
into her hairbrush. It's not true
what they're thinking about her. She's lying
across her bed, laughing at her mother
clanking something downstairs
to let everyone know who's angry
and right. Turn down the music! The daughter
fills her mouth with 17 Big Red sticks
from a 24-pack, eats pretzels too, mixing in
salt and crumbs. Turn down the music!
Sunlight gapes into the room.
The daughter belly down, stomach
muscles tight, head hanging
off the bed-edge, arms straight out
before her. Turn down the music!
Eight blue glass marbles between
her prehensile toes, one
marble between each two. She
claps her foot-soles, clicking
the marbles, little worlds,
together. She turns down
the music, writes “lassitude” in
the dust on the radio.
The daughter eats icing with her
finger from a bowl on her lap:
Powdered sugar, margarine, vanilla.
She made it herself from a
recipe on the box. There are escapes and
they are true things.
Mother, that ass, doesn't know.
blasts the curtains open like legs.
From Dallas Piotrowski: Portfolio
The Mad Hatter (Stephen King) (2004)
14 x 16
watercolor and pen & ink
Wonderland (Joyce Carol Oates) (2004)
14 3/4 x 24
watercolor and pen & ink