Madeleine Wolfe–A Sequence. Poems by John Repp, selected by Ron Mohring as Number Three in Volume Seven of our Summer Kitchen Chapbook Series.
Publication: August 26, 2019 [49 copies]
Cover image: antique fabric panel, French, circa 1900.
John Repp grew up near the Palace Depression in Vineland, New Jersey and has lived for many years in Erie, Pennsylvania with his wife and son. His poems began appearing in literary journals in 1979 and have been gathered in thirteen chapbook- and book-length collections, including Big Conneautee—American Haibun, published in 2010 by Seven Kitchens Press. Read more about John and his writing at his web site.
The day she let me paint her toenails
it rained all morning. We skipped work,
serious business. We wobbled through the rain
for coffee and oh that particular sweet roll!
Jessie knew how morning glory twined
in untended beds, how it choked as it bloomed.
She named what grew in each window box,
and I listened, and forgot.
This was the forties, that’s all you need to know.
This was the day we saw James Agee in the Gotham.
I said You’re James Agee! and he said Yes, I am
and dropped his head to the history again.
We rummaged in the travel books
and Jessie found a novel set in Athens.
James Agee hung his tousled head.
He looked skinny and worn-out.
He curled his whole body
around each cigarette.
This was the forties, our forties,
afternoon sun steaming the streets dry.
We whispered at night about Spain
in the bed we’d made ours.
We whispered about the war
and the year we wanted
in the cities: Barcelona, Cairo,
Venice and Milan in the rain.
Before I painted her toenails,
I took each toe in my mouth.
I clipped the nails and filed them.
Use the red polish, she said.
I put salve on her calluses.
I poured olive oil in a bowl
and wet each foot well.
I rubbed it in with both hands.
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