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Selected Poems by Juanice Myers


The industrial park

     has a beautiful pond

And a male and female

     swan to paddle around

     in it.

Each spring, they have eggs

     and, in late May, bring forth

     an ugly duckling who

becomes their world as it

     follows around behind them.

But, after a week or so, each

     baby dies.

The official word is muskrats—

     not large enough to be a threat

to parents, but big enough to

     get the babies.

So, each year, the swans

     work hard so that,

     for one week,

they can put all their energies

     into a little something

     not themselves.

And all they know of life and

     love is that

A baby is something that comes

     in the spring

And goes away

     very quickly.


When I was in high school

     we were always going to the drive-in

for Cokes and hamburgers.


One of the carhops was a woman

     with faded red hair and a

Distinctive and somewhat sexy walk.

One time I heard someone whisper,

     “That’s Johnny C’s mother.”


I did not know Johnny C well.

     he wore a leather jacket

And greased his hair into a D.A.


We teenagers ate our french fries

     and devoured our rock and roll

And noticed that Johnny C’s mother

     had some teeth missing.

Even though our mothers were telephone

     operators and teachers and store clerks,

I’m glad we never thought to make fun

     of her.

I wish that I had known her name and

     that teenagers of those days

Had known more about the wonderful

     world of tips.


In my childhood,

my father had a friend

named Wallace.

I remember he had a

silly, giggly, wonderful

     laugh and

he was always hitching

up his tool belt.

Also, there was a woman

named “Yates” who worked

the lunch counter at the drug

store during the day and

sold tickets at the movie

theatre at night.

I have no idea what

happened to Wallace.

Years later, I was told

that Yates was forced to

live with a daughter

who “didn’t really want her.”


Our lives are like

large hoops that touch

in small places.

We turn our heads

and glance at each other

for a few moments, then

remember only giggles

and movie tickets.


There is a deep chasm into which,

     if people are the right type of people,

They can fall.

They become, if they are not careful,

     support persons…

Male and female…

Oh, don’t underestimate their importance.

     we cannot live without them and they

do, you realize, keep the earth

     spinning on its axis.

You never marry them

     or take them to bed…

You never kiss them…

     except on the forehead

     or the cheek…

And you only find them in your thoughts

     if you have a problem that needs

     to be solved…

But support people fill a need just

     like a good dog

     or a keg of beer

     or a whore

And they are the least demanding

     of the lot.

You don’t have to feed them

     or buy them or

     take them out on the town.

And, when you are through with them,

     they just ease very naturally and simply

Out of your life and

     back to where they were

     when you found them.

And the best part of the whole thing

     is that


If one of them starts to

     drink a little more than usual or

     stay out late or

     even if this person does something really nutty

     with razor blades or something…

You don’t have to worry because

     you weren’t involved with him.

Thank God you didn’t do anything

     to cause it.

In fact—now tell the truth—

     didn’t you hardly know him?

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