House of the Tomato

If a woman wants to be a poet, she must dwell in the house of the tomato. -- Erica Jong

Regional website for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, in partnership with the Reader's Loft.


Celebrating, sharing and inspiring poetry throughout Wisconsin.


Not 100% sure of the title. Could also be Kinko's? Or Rerouting? Thoughts? Also I made the line length deliberately ragged to add to the uncomfortableness. Works? Not? 


I conjecture a body advancing
in skateboard shorts and fugitive hair.
Ghost holds his phone over his head,
marches Helen of Troy, red-rimmed fervor
in his eyes. We are trying to find Kinko's
in downtown Cream City. I hold
my tongue, tight as a root
in my mouthful of silt. He missed a delivery,
forwarded  to the nearest Fedex outpost.
A male tourist asks if I need help.
No, I say, he's my son.
I'm sorry pockets his hands.

Ghost interrogates the clerk at Kinko's.
Do you know? Or do you speculate?
He stabs at his phone looking for proof
of identity. The clerk shakes his head
on the verge of walking away.
Ghost soothes with the flipside
of his personality,
charming as shattered glass.
He questions the box in his arms,
the meter where I parked the car.
Do you know? Or do you speculate?

Keyless he rattles the door.
His landlady dumpling rounds her worried eyes,
refusing to cut any more keys. The city jangles
with the keys he's lost.
Her large pores beg for help.
He was so happy a year ago.
Ghost waves her away like smoke,
like a stray dog.  Do you know?
Or do you speculate?

County tells me to call the crisis line.
The crisis line tells me to call the cops.
Lady cop stands erect as a gym teacher
while her partner confers sotto voce
with ghost camped out on the front stoop
of the apartment with his box, a legal tenant,
laying down his mosaic. Do you know?
Or do you speculate?

Lady cop and her halo of health explains,
nicely, that my son is within his rights to be crazy.
They can't make him go home or get help.
Also her apology asks me to leave
the premises. Ghost does not want me to stay.
I have meetings in the morning. I turn aimless corners,
watching my GPS try to reroute me back
the way that I've come, dazed with what I don't know,
scared to speculate.

© 2019 House of the Tomato