Every night now
For seven in a row,
There’s a full moon.
Even as a child I was suspicious of so much beauty.
I learned from my grandmother
That it is not the same one she remembered from Poland,
The one there turned men into vampires and werewolves,
But that it would do until the real one came back.
She never smiled, my mother’s mother.
It was as if she were always posing for a daguerreotype,
Where the least smudge of a grin would blur the image.
But then I assumed old people didn’t smile,
That it was normal to be addicted to alka-seltzer, as she was,
Throwing back one after another like a sailor on a day pass.
I remember her most clearly,
On her arthritic knees on the basement floor of her house,
Pounding on the cheap concrete,
Swearing in broken English at the noises she heard coming through the floor.
She claimed they were the voices of dying men in the coal mines beneath us.
She could hear the cracking of picks, the braying of mules,
The rushing of waters, followed by screams for help.
It all ended with the scratching of fingers against the underside of the floor,
And a whimpered “Hail Mary” in Polish.
Then she’d ache to her feet, and curse them,
“Die like men, for once. Die like men, holera,
“And stop bothering a good Catholic woman like me.
“You should all be ashamed of yourselves.”
That done, she would dust off her housecoat
And limp upstairs for another round of alka-seltzer.
Ron Yazinski’s poems have appeared in Strong Verse, The Bijou Review, Amarillo Bay, The Edison Literary Review, The Cynic Review, The Wilderness House Review, Scholars and Rogues, Chantarelle’s Notebook, The Electric Poet, Centrifugal Eye, amphibi.us, The Write Room, Pulsar and Crash. He is also the author of the chapbook HOUSES: AN AMERICAN ZODIAC, which was published by The Poetry Library and a book of poems SOUTH OF SCRANTON.