• Robert L. Giron

Issue 38 — James Bland

James Bland


Easter Suits


Each Easter I received

a Sears suit:

The shoulders fit smug;

the arms reached the base

of my thumb,

revealing an half inch

of shirt cuff —

as a gentlemen’s should,

but the jacket waist ballooned.

The bow tie clip-on

bit into my neck.

Excess pant waist was tucked

under double-looped belt;

and cuffed hems

piled around ankles.

But if I puffed

out my stomach

and distributed my weight

on both feet,

the suit would fit right,

causing big-boned

church women

to wrench my cheeks.

Seeing them coming,

I’d hide

between dad’s legs,

peeking out.


Copyright © 2010 by James Bland.



Porch


After a swelling

Sunday dinner,

relatives would

wade out

onto the porch.



Some sitting

on foldout chairs,

charitied to us

by the Baptist church.



Others squatting

on porch steps

after a brusque

hand-sweep.



Bossy uncle Edward

and big-boned aunt Betty

always swayed

in the hammocks

that draped the porch corners.



No one talked much,

but watched the neighbor-kids

peddle their Big Wheels

up and down black tops;

or run in and out

automatic sprinklers,

timed to go off at nightfall.



Always plaited girls

sprung up and down,

playing double-dutch,

their sing-song, somehow

more clarion

during the descent of dark.


Copyright © 2010 by James Bland.



Clothesline


After washing clothes

in the Maytag,

dad would haul them

to the backyard

in a green laundry basket,

cooked on one side

because I once left it

too close to the heater.



He’d lurch forward

like a robot,

the knitted sack

that contained

the wooden clothespins

baby-birded in the nook

between chin and clavicle.



Unable to do it herself,

grandma would eyeball him

from her bedroom window:

“Clothespin them at the seams.

If you spread them out,

they’ll dry faster …”



Glimpses —

in his frustration,

when she corrected him;

in his pride,

when she was content —

of the boy he once was.


Copyright © 2010 by James Bland.



Biography:


James Bland earned an MFA in Poetry from Cornell University and a PhD in English and American Literature from Harvard University. He has received a collegiate Academy of American Poet 's Prize, a Bread Loaf Writer's Workshop Scholarship, a Saratoga Springs Writer's Fellowship, a Key West Writer's Fellowship, and has been awarded two MacDowell Colony residencies.


His work has or will appear in Callaloo,Agni Magazine,Columbia Magazine,Key West Review,Muleteeth,The Windless Orchard,The Kenyon Review,Ploughshares Literary Journal,Standing on the Verge,South Carolina Review,Blue Moon Review, Antioch Review, and Potomac Review.



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