Three Poems

Baker’s Pick
Liz Dolan

The Boy Who Swings on Our Line

My cauled eyes open to the fluttering
sheets fanned by my brother’s
ansty five-year-old soul. From the open window
I see as he swells my father’s overalls,
crooks the knees and bellows as though
with Dad he flags the six a.m. from Darien.
He puffs up breasts in my Peter-panned
school blouse. Luciferous boy. He snuggles
in my mother’s tea-rosed housecoat,
twists his V-necked Yankee shirt
about the line, now worn by his relief,
a baby brother. Beware of trucks, I whisper,
much too late. Does anyone know he is here?
He grasps my mother’s sage-scented hands
as she snaps each piece of bleached laundry
and pins it to his trapeze. I am not sure
if I want him to stay and play. I lie.
Go, release us all from your awful presence,
airborne shape-shifter, powerful child, so we
can smell fresh cotton against our pasty cheeks,
then melt crayons into bottle caps to shoot
scullies on the hard Bronx pavement again.


What Is Hardest

is being the last to go
outliving husband, siblings, daughter
and Mary Monk with whom she consumed
scampi and pasta e fagioli at Meoli’s after mass.
At 95 she still fricassees chicken, grows plump
crimson tomatoes and bright green snap peas,
ties the last knot in a rug
she hooks and knocks off Maeve Binchy
in an afternoon. She pines for her peers,
her memory menage, who torched along
with Sophie Tucker, the last
of the red hot mamas, Some one of these days,
you’re gonna miss me, honey. They had to
take turns sleeping in creaky beds
at Aunt Kate’s during the depression,
relished Mickeys exploded over trash-can fires
in the gold-paved gutters of the then not-so-big apple
On the calendar, she marks Mary’s anniversary,
the feast of the Conversion of Paul, a lightning-bolted
profligate, blinded, then thrown by his horse,
whom Jesus asked, Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?
She sighs, nods, even though
she can no longer walk to the market alone
her purse purloined once
her eyes misjudging the height of curbs.


Caught Unaware

When he rested his first born
against his solid chest
bare flesh against bare flesh
he knew she was the sweet
that would feed all his days.
He doused his last smoke,
dumped his last Dewar’s
ferried her in a shopping bag
to present her to his sister.
Then father and daughter
feasted at Shepherd’s Lake, heard
carillons chime Abide With Me
as they inhaled the mauve heave of
May’s earth, watched a vermilion sun
settle like butter between hollows
of screed hills where skeet shots
cleaved silence and red-winged blackbirds
squabbled like kin below.


A Pushcart nominee in both poetry and fiction, Liz has published poems, memoir and short stories in New Delta Review, Rattle, Harp Weaver, The Cortland Review, Illuminations, and Natural Bridge, among others. She has received a fellowship and grants from the Delaware Division of the Arts. She is one of eight DE poets recently chosen for the master’s level retreat with Fleda Brown, DE Poet Laureate. Her work in Mudlark was chosen for The Best of the Web by Web Del Sol. Liz was recently accepted as an associate artist in residence with Sharon Olds at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Philadelphia Stories has requested her presence on their poetry board and she won a prize in “The Art Of Storytelling Contest” from the DE Museum of Art. E-mail: lizrosedolan[at]

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