Before Dying
	
	My mother never spoke in an unladylike manner.
	Her lips were incapable of forming foul shapes
	allowing vulgarities to slip through.
 	
	She'd whisper Hail Marys when we had the chickenpox
	in a voice so pure it sounded like an aria, flowing
	by my bedroom in tones of paradise, mauve and blue.
	 
	I remember the way she wrapped licorice over popcorn balls,
	salted and dipped in Carmel and how she'd weave tinsel
	over evergreens, shredding silver at Christmas time.

	She tweezed tiny splinters that pierced our fingers
	with the care of a surgeon and she'd sew the stitch
	of an invisible hem on black watch skirts;

	her needle so fast the light would catch and shine
	in continuous loops of whirling thread.
	She'd sauté sausage with scramble eggs on Sunday 

	always dressed in her gold kimono, hair coiffed,
	nails the shade of orange poppies growing wild
	on the hillside. Oh, there were women who appeared

	close to her perfection, Audrey Hepburn comes to mind
	or Jennifer Jones for her role in Song of Bernadette-
	yet none could match such godliness from a daughter’s

	hazel eyes. But when her body began to fail
	and the sound of her voice dwindled like the soft grate
	of a needle on the vinyl of an old 33, Couture bowed

	to flannel gowns, cooking, morphed to TV dinners,
	primping turned to the swab of a tepid washcloth anointed
	in lavender suds. And when I heard her whisper bitch

	in the nurse’s ear, for adjusting the trachea tube
	when dying was in her mind, I realized what a burden
	it must have been all those years-
	upholding all that saintliness I’d assigned her. 

 

 

	Just Like John Wayne
	
	You've offered me so much in life my dear
	Come sit with me awhile my husband, here
	I have some things I'd like to let you know
	Regarding attitude towards information
	Maybe Just a minor transformation
	Would be grand if you could possibly reflect
	A moment on the blueprints of a man,
	Just like an architect, I fear perhaps you may
	Have missed when learning how to caulk a ceiling,
	was it omitted from your list? Because
	I've wondered when the toilet overflows
	Do you know the way to use a plumber's hose?
	It seems that I am more the manly one
	The woman with a tool belt strapped around
	My waist, it’s hanging low about my hips
	While I drink my beer with tiny sips,
	But aren't you the one my dear who's gifted?
	In this area, perchance I lifted
	Just or trick or two from those manly-men
	I dated when I was just a girl back when
	I courted many with their bags of tools
	Who rendered mostly brains of silly fools
	And you have all the attributes of which
	I gallantly commend so dear I hope
	You’ll take this with a grain of salt, ahem
	Never would I want to intimate or send
	The feeling that I'm unaware how superb
	You look in underwear or when you kiss
	Me how my heart beats ten thousand times
	With lips so full, they taste like lemon rinds
	Because your heritage is Greek and oh
	You have a grand physique, but if I could
	Suggest or make the tiniest request
	When you see an opening in classes
	Teaching ruggedness for men with glasses
	Like the guys who walk with cigarettes rolled
	In their sleeves bringing damsels to their knees
	With all the brawny ways of Hercules
	Well would you ask, if not for you, but me
	About a lesson plan you could enroll
	One that implements instruction giving
	Students a control explaining not to overlook,
	The ways to hang a picture on a hook,
	Or turning screws around until their in
	It's not that difficult, and yet for men	
	Sometimes I think a class could help or aid
	A Manly- Class, without a failing grade
	And then when we're between the sheets each night
	I'll thank you for your willingness to learn,
	Cuz gee it would be nice to watch you spit
	And chew while opening your woodwork kit
	You’d swagger down the lane, a tough as steel
	Just like John Wayne without the cowboy heel.

 

 

Picture of Poet Carol Lynn GrellasCarol Lynn Grellas is a Northern California-based writer. She attended Santa Clara University and has had numerous poems appear in magazines and online journals, including most recently The Oasis, Las Cruces for Poet's and Writers and Munyori Poetry Journal. Her poem "Before I Go to Sleep" is scheduled to appear in the January 08 issue of The Storyteller Magazine. She has published one book titled I'm Packing Things for Heaven. She lives with her husband and five children who inspire much of her poetry.