Saturday, September 24, 2022

Two Poems by Kelley White


It's a black and white world.  Papa
and Gran.  Momma and Dad.  Skin
that looks gray and purple and red.
You know those old jokes:  Black
and white and red all over.  A newspaper?
A nun chewing on a razor blade.
Lick your finger after you run your 
test strip.  Sweet?  That metallic tingle.
Yes, of course, sweet blood.  Name
the sweetest of them all?  Candy Kane?
Sugar Cookie?  Daddy Sweetums?
Here we are, alone and sour.  Camden
across the river with His Master's Voice.

I have a tuxedo cat.  You have a dog
in formal wear.  So polite, these pets.
'My dog is more popular than I am.'
He got a dozen valentines.  I got none.
The Elite Hunger of Belonging and I'm 
alone.  Along for the ride and he's dangling
his tongue out the window.  I'll finish all
the vegetables on my plate, especially
the peas.  Call me Lima Bean.  Green
is the color of my blood.  Ichor.  Ah,
serum of the Gods.  Tomorrow we may
all twitch and stutter to the beat
of a spoiled neuron.  It's a white
and black world.  You know the jokes.


The children have made a new game.
Peacemaker.  One child sits cross legged
atom the slide platform and dispenses
wisdom to the others.  Until she gets bored
and slides down the woodchips.

Another takes a turn.  Perhaps he closes
his eyes, hums.  This is after all, a Quaker school.
Questions are asked.  Advice is given.
Then a quick slide down.  And another climb
up.  They sit atop their world and play at truth.

And Liberty and Justice play together
on the swing.  And a See-Saw for all.

Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire.  Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA.  Her most recent collection is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press).  She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine.  Her newest collection,  NO HOPE STREET,  has just been published by Kelsay Books.

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