Heebie Jeebies

Twelve years old,
enthralled by Jan August’s Misirlou,
I listen to the 78 record on my phonograph.
My heart soars with the strings.

I notice a stack of 45’s
with bright, colored centers
my Father brought home from his tavern,
donated by the jukebox man.

I never heard of Little Richard,
put on the white and gold label.

I got the heebie jeebies ’cause I love you so

My heart beats faster,
feet dance.

Next weekend, a teen party.
Over the loudspeaker—

Tutti Frutti, oh rootie

Little Richard again.

At home, the 78’s,
Patti Page, Rosemary Clooney,
Johnnie Ray, Frankie Laine,
lay scattered on the floor.
Instead the record player spins
Rock Around the Clock,
Rock N’ Roll Is Here To Stay,
Maybellene, Blueberry Hill.

Violins got heebie jeebied.
78’s collected dust.

Little Richard—
piercing wail, pounding piano,
towering pompadour, raunch and religion—
with Chuck Berry, Fats Domino
broke the sound barrier
for the rest of my life.

Spin the Bottle

They weren’t the three
Macbeth witches—
Diana, Nancy, and Donna,
but they were scary as Hell
when we gathered
in Diana’s basement
afternoons during middle-school.

We played with our hormones
as kids have done since man
invented bottles.
Round and round and round—
prayed and wished it would
point to someone who would kiss you,
not point to someone who
would scrunch up her face
and say, “No Way.”

The deal was go behind
the big furnace in Diana’s basement
so you could do it or not.
No one would know
while the others waited
in the next room,
breathless for their fate.

I spun Diana first,
rangy and tall as a stork,
towered over my scrawny self.
That was easy.
We made a deal
behind the furnace,
pretend to kiss and lie,
like lots of others.

Then Nancy,
who had a big nose—
they called her Nosalich—
children cruel always.
We kissed and did not tell,
glad for no rejection.

Finally, Donna.
She said no to me,
the true witch of the three.
She was the sexpot.
Everyone knew she had done
more than kiss.
Later a baby out of wedlock
when you could still say that.

Wonder if teens in basements now
still spin their futures
behind the furnace of their hearts?

The Date Fairy

An eight year marriage argument.
Mean and ugly words
spatter like kitchen grease.

Wiggling diaper baby
hangs off her side,
seven year old snot nose
sobs in the corner.

His stolid arms
locked in silence,
angry belly protrudes
low over his belt.

The Date Fairy appears.
No wings or wand.
A sad smile on her face,
a mirror in her hand.

The couple stops raging,
the children hush.

The Fairy holds up the mirror
so all can see.
A light flashes.
The couple is at a table
in a coffee shop.
They have just met.

Coo like pigeons,
they talk and talk.
No words heard
in the mirror,
just smiles, love.
He takes her hand.
She squeezes back.

Mad love that night,
married in a year.
Out popped the snot nose,
soon the hanging diaper,
monster bills and Mother-in-Law,
nasty psoriasis,
a mutt found their door,
he didn’t want it, she did.
Their words from soft to hard.

The mirror repeats,
stops at the hand squeeze.
The Date Fairy vanishes.