Selected by Alexis Rhone Fancher, Poetry Editor

Pam Ward: Three Poems

Single Mom

Somewhere between
a burnt marriage
a greasy kitchen
and a grey 22.
Sandwiched between
these smiling kids
and my painted teeth.
Somewhere way off
from coffee mugs
stained with yesterday’s
paycheck, rent due
that last final kiss.
Choosing between
Disneyland or
Sybil Brand*
murder or Mr.
Toad’s ride.
Driving all the way
from Anaheim to LA
anxious as an inmate.
Passing your house
your new car
your girlfriend’s red bike
smashing the snails
on my porch.
Somewhere between
what I didn’t say
and my black
Ajax mouth
scrounging for words
but spitting a shoe.
With two of you
in my back seat
sweet dreamy lugs
tasting of grape juice
and cherry.
Somewhere between
their breath at my neck
or them asking for water
or the fear
they’ll call some
bimbo mommie
gnaws at me yanks
me straight back
from the brink
makes me face
one more sink
full of dishes.

*a notorious Los Angeles women’s prison


What Miles Thought He Heard Cicely Say 

“Gimme a black eye
a boot kick
a side of smacked face
a chocolate shake that
can dislocate spine.
Come on, Miles! 
Slap me silly.
Knock me into next week.
Drown me in the sea of
your Bitches Brew again
till my skin’s Kinda Blue
and my elbow hangs funny
and does a dry bump & grind in my sling.
Come on, Miles!
Kick the living daylights outta me!
Wipe the smile off my face.
Wipe the floor  up with me.
Make me see stars.
Make me hear Lady Day scream.
Make Coltrane blare from the grave.
Maybe I’ll get lucky
and meet my maker this time.
Before your trumpet turns weapon.
Before your horn drums my lungs.
Before my teeth beg my ribs not to breathe.
Come on Miles!
It’s Round Midnight, we got plenty of time!
Why don’t cha beat me within an inch of my life!”


Hollywood Hills

Every time I went over Kim’s her dad came
outside while we laid next to the pool.
It was a small, useless tank
with horrible swamp-green water
where bugs hatched their eggs in the scum.
Her dad would always come out there
checking the pump
fiddling with the gauges
sticking his wrist in the deep end.
Kim leaned over and told me
they were all in therapy now
ever since he fucked one of her friends.
I watched him duck in the garage
and emerge later, shot glass red
a Jim Beam smirk on his lips.
He wades in and wet covers his thighs, hips and gut
ballooning vulgarly over his shorts.
His grin made me think of a zipper half-down.
A man whistling at kids while hosing his grass.
My hairdresser begging me to “suck it,” right there in his chair.
And I know that it’s out there
happening in Hollywood or Watts or Marina del Rey.
Everyday there’s a hand with a fistful of candy.
A wet hungry tongue resting over chapped lips.
A fist waiting to scrawl your name on the stall.
An arm luring you down underwater.


cover of Between Good Men & No Man at All by Pam Ward
between good men & no man at all by Pam Ward




Photo Credit: Rachel Resnick

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