Wanted: One cliché to replace the old woman currently feeding the pigeons in our city park

Sean Lause

Photo Credit: dafuriousd/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Photo Credit: dafuriousd/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

She feeds pigeons, only pigeons.
If a sparrow alights on her big cigar,
she blows smoke in its face
and flicks it away. And her laughter
stings the air like bees.

She snarls obscenities at perfect strangers
for not being stranger enough.
She kicks children who step too close
with her plastic Family Dollar sneakers.
She has her bench and will not budge.

The pigeons flock to her, only to her.
They are filthy and will not scare.
Some have disturbing pink eyes,
and these birds dance occult
computations in the snow.

She appears to have a large supply of bread.
Still, she might be homeless,
which is bad for tourism,
and which may very well embarrass
some of our Christian brethren.

She refuses to give her name.
The police are baffled. She feeds and feeds,
chuffing away on her cigar. One pigeon
sits on her head like a dubious divinity.
At night she fades into shadowed trees.

A group of concerned citizens
is seeking a little old lady to replace her.
Must be neat and clean, and adore children.
Non-smoker preferred. Benefits include
nursing home accommodations if necessary.

pencilSean Lause teaches at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio. His poems have appeared in The Minnesota Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Atlanta Review, The Pedestal, European Judaism, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Upstart Crow, Sanskrit, The Alaska Quarterly and Poetry International. His first book of poems, Bestiary of Souls, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2013. Email: lause.s[at]rhodesstate.edu

Two Poems

Sean Lause

roll book
Photo Credit: Ken Stein

Class roll

I stand before them,
pretending to a wisdom I don’t own.
I call each name, smiling, a life,
check mark, a life, check mark, a life…
I make my marks sure and strong
to cover my awkwardness
(that land-locked pelican).
I name and name, patiently,
like Adam circling the garden.

Next door I hear chattering chalk
from a teacher not as cautious as I.
These are lives after all, some here in confusion,
a name attached to a mystery, some young,
with bubble gum, and an assurance
held together with safety glue, some older,
keeping their wisdom silent for now,
some truth seekers, eyes eager,
pencils cocked in a salute.

And perhaps a few
who carry in their pockets
beans they don’t yet know are magic.


Ancestral dance

Here is a photograph—
My grandparents dance motionless
around their apple tree, deep-rooted,
their stone house planted solid
in their dreaming, fertile fields.

Their embrace whirls through time
to touch my name, my hands that
hold the picture like a breath a prayer,
this forever lost, this here, as I
let myself enter the fading frame.

In distance the fields lay free, cut by the merci-
ful scythe, in the captured light as I
watch my ancestral lovers in their dance
while heavy honey bees find broken apples,
hang in them upside down, cling and burrow.

A butterfly flutters by eternity,
the endless flow of borrowed time
as I spot my mother, nine, reading
Wuthering Heights under the tree, caught
in a dream, not yet dreaming me.

All this is gone as yesterday Saturdays,
futile to become again, and yet
so relentlessly present. This dance,
cupped in the palms, a moon charm
for the lunatic vanishings of time.


Sean Lause teaches courses in Shakespeare, Literature and the Holocaust, and Medical Ethics at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio. His poems have appeared in The Minnesota Review, The Alaska Quarterly, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Saranac Review, The Atlanta Review, Sanskrit and Poetry International. His first book of poems, Bestiary of Souls, was published earlier this year by FutureCycle Press. Email: lause.s[at]rhodesstate.edu