when your heart is sore and
it is hard to swallow try
standing at night beneath a
linden tree in full bloom
you need enough breeze to
envelop your body with
the tree’s perfume shut your
eyes be very still take
deep breaths it will help
for the moment
© Jacqueline Jackson 2006
I was 12 years old before I ever heard the word “ass” spoken out loud. It was the sixth-grade picnic at Belvidere Park, and Debbie Prather was sitting on the center pole of the merry-go-round. “It’s pinching my ass!” she said, and everybody gasped. We were prudish and sheltered children. I was still splitting my weekends between Girl Scouts and Sunday school, but Debbie sat behind me in class and told me about Saturday nights at the Rumpus Room. She came from a family that lived in one of a cluster of Quonset huts near the edge of town. I’m ashamed of myself now to think how harshly I judged her, but children are tough critics. Vicki Bamman’s poem “The Merry-Go-Round” causes me to wonder how much children see and how much they know.
— Carol Manley, guest editor
The merry-go-round creaks,
Jeff’s feet patter in the dust,
making little puffs, cartoonlike.
He pushes the merry-go-round,
jumps on, drags his toes as he spins.
Little round Amanda
in too-small shorts and too-large shirt
leans against the bars of the merry-go-round.
She smiles at the blurred playground
as she wells past me.
In the middle of the merry-go-round,
Tiffany sits, legs spraddled out.
Hands cling tightly
Her dress is ruffly and dirty,
party clothes rolled in dust.
Sneakers too big, legs too thin,
eyes large, beautiful, solemn.
She doesn’t smile.
Another girl calls her poopy-pants.
She doesn’t respond
Vicki Bamman has fostered two dozen babies and has ushered many children into new homes. A Springfield writer, she is a member and supporter of several writing groups.
Send submissions to Jacqueline Jackson Presents People’s Poetry to email@example.com or to Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705.