Friday, January 30, 2015

Toast with Butter

Toast with Butter        

Frannie Zellman

(To the memory of my grandma, Helen Glaser)

Saturday was a warm shade of yellow
and the plate of porcelain fruit on the wall

and the people in their kitchen
we could see
across the alley.

When you spread butter
on toast,
you would send the knife
in slow, precise strokes
as if you or the knife
were wake-dreaming.
You'd pick the toast up slowly
and chew each bite
with just a little butter
getting on the same spot
above your lip every time.
I'd wipe it each time,
making you laugh
and blink,
your hazel eyes
smiling into my dark unsettled ones
as if butter indeed melted in your mouth:
just a tiny spot
on your chin.

And the people in their kitchen
looked back at us
across the alley
almost but not quite
in a smile.

I think you knew them a little.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Double Helix

Double Helix

the bottles
were too tight to open
when my dad closed them.

Now he cannot open
the ones I close
for him.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Snow Sky

Snow Sky

Grey first,
then white.
The next quiet
comes with clouds.
Then a softening,
as if to ease
into secret calm
way before

The first one
melts on the tongue.
Close your eyes.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Hidden

The Hidden

The most obvious ones
deny the Holocaust.
The rest scream dual loyalty,
or world bankers
or landlords.

In certain countries
they put plays
on Friday night TV -
with long noses
and bags of cash.

Never women.

Are we invisible
or somewhere
in whispered fantasies
as playful as orange blossom
or as angry
as the first blasts of war?

Thursday, January 22, 2015



Frannie Zellman

Plump. Zaftig.
Plentiful pulchritude.
Robust. Big-framed.
Well padded.

Once upon a time
we cowered behind
these adjectives,
hoping the one we dreaded
would not blast its way
out of our haters.

How much fright
can three letters

How much shame

But if we take it up
and clothe,, bathe, cover ourselves
in it

like sand grits
the best summer food
makes it taste weirdly
happily better

three letters
it becomes us

it limns us

it knows us

and it holds us
as we hold it

we name

we were all right all along

and we fat



here we are

fat of the land
fats and fattingly


Tuesday, January 20, 2015



Breath circles
lung hiss
frees the wave
of sound
that flies
of the physical

Sunday, January 18, 2015

February, 1974

February, 1974

Snow and ice.
You hold me,
then push me downhill
all the while
clutching my arms
so I won't fall.

Part of me dies,
goes to winter heaven:
young woman
in love
with danger.

Warm breath flies cold.
Am I the only one who dreamt herself
into myth?.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Haddonfield is as Haddonfield does..

Why don't you like me, Haddonfield?
Is it because I wore a warm jacket,
not a decorative one?
Is it because I wore a beret,
not a lady hat?
Is it because I wore unheeled boots,
not stilettos?
It is because I frightened the lady in the bank
who edged away in shock
because I wore sweatpants?
Is it because I disgusted the girl in the drugstore
who asked, "Can I help you"
while wishing to do the exact opposite?
Oh, Haddonfield, Haddonfield,
you have a lot of growing up to do.
And let me let you in on a secret -
the next time, I may arrive
on your oh so sedate streets
with someone who is...(wait for it)!!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Two Years (To Ron Kephart and his memory)

Your voice over the phone
ran like a hillbilly's,
and when I told you,
you laughed.
In your blog,
men and women fought
for eight hour days
and respect.
Under my watchful eye,
commas and verbs met
and agreed.
You'd sing
or write about bears
on the side.

So many knew you.
I knew you for a year,
and although
I never saw or talked to you
face to face,
I knew that all the time
we were fleshing out
some clause or point
or paragraph,
you were sitting
with a smile as wide
as counties.
Come in, stranger,
it seemed to say.
Sit a spell.
Have some joe.
Talk to us
of work and people
who fight
for others.
I will tell you
of coal and anger
and the valor
of a town.
I will tell you
of people who stood in the line
through freezing rain
and the blows of thugs
and the hate of rich swells
who never knew
what it was to work hungry
and live hungry
with children in rags.

My smile answers

knowing you're still working
for those who can't,
and says,

"I will tell you
of all those who miss you
and wish you were still here
to make the terrible news
and help us all
rise up
to better days.
Come in, stranger.
Sit with us once more
on your chair
by the window
and pretend
that you never left."

Saturday, January 10, 2015



Frannie Zellman

According to Ms. C,

is secular, not religious
married someone not Jewish
wore soft fur-like and spangly tops
smiled for no reason
listened to rock and folk,
new wave, punk
in the office
did not apologize for her size
yelled at a lover on the phone
ate at her desk
gave her grandchild tips
on Manhattan sights
only to have Ms. C tell her,

"Oh no, don't talk to her.
She's not a nice person."

Oh yes, Ms.C, ward off Shaitanah!
Keep appraisals
of her boxed up like old ribbons
that fade and thin to strings
on which your thoughts choke

your most holy essence