Tag Archives: lawyers

She Hates Numbers

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la cubana, a poem (for miriam)

illustration la cubana bay of pigsillustration la cubana

La Cubana
(for Miriam)

You wanted to be a ballerina;
you still have the feet to prove it.
Beautifully ugly — the large indelible corns

a badge of honor you wear snug
inside your stoic three-inch heels.
Even now, you move like a dancer;

that curious, hesitant grace making you
nearly transparent, your fingernails resembling
the vague glimmer of fallen sequins

against dusty wood. I first saw you
cloaked in heavy tweed, your blouse
buttoned like a nun’s, ponderous glasses

weighting your cheeks; a lyric ode
to fine print and words of limitation.
From across the room you smiled.

You have grown into your new profession…
even hair charmingly askew, you remind me
of money, of large parcels of land,

of failed invasions. I can see
how your grandfather whirled that quiet girl
from Boston into his life. When your own father

came back, two years late, from the Bay of Pigs,
you didn’t seem to know him anymore; his blue eyes
forever magnified by loss, his young wife grown bold at last,

they both still played their parts in the undeclared war.
Perhaps the real reason you let go
the lambskin, the pink satin, the sharp-edged slant

of ribbons against buoyant muscle,
was your brother. When he went away,
you had to be the son in that circular way

all Latins have. And yet, now that I finally see you
holding your small stubborn daughter,
I am reminded of the heroic way your tears fall,

winding mascara down with them, stubbornly
clinging to your neck until they simply
disappear. Forget the earplugs, the tranquilizers,

the last minute histrionics — it wasn’t until
you kissed me on the cheek that I truly mourned
my own mother. No one else could bestow

that strange catalyst. Your line of time
admittedly different, yet as familiar
as a vision. Can you possibly understand how,

in that one unending moment, you became
my sister, my lover, my own cool lips,
my own interminably carried broken dream?

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in defense of lawyers, a prose poem

illustration defense of lawyers quote anton-chekhov

quote:  anton chekhov


In Defense of Lawyers

Inevitably, a person’s defense of an idea becomes most impassioned just before they cease to believe in it altogether. Passion comes to open the way for the loss of innocence: the world we once loved is lost. What does this say about the plight of lawyers? They shoulder the breach of your dreams for simple cash and nothing more. Everybody sympathizes with garbage men: well, somebody’s got to do it. Lawyers handle the garbage of the soul.

I myself had clients I believed in — false teeth and all, I took them to my heart; well, somebody’s got to do it. I wasn’t unusual in this regard; it’s a phase all of us go through. Granted, most people don’t understand our system of laws. We’re born into this web of relationships, whether we like it or not. No way to opt out, though I always kept one eye open in hopes of that promised loophole, wanting to wriggle away from society’s tight grip like a stray dog out of a stiff new collar. Nobody, not even a liar, wants to live in a cage; we all went to law school to figure out how to open the cage doors. What we found is that there is no way out, not ever. For all of us, the only sure finish is bankruptcy, or death.

Yet, there came the day I wanted only to crawl under my desk and stay there. My client had informed me he would lie to the judge. All the rules about keeping quiet were no comfort. I could no more allow him to lie than I could rip out my own intestines. I wept, in the ladies’ room, wanting to die of a broken heart and have it over that way. My client lost, no fault of mine. I’m sorry, I told him. He spit in my face, coming close, pointing his weathered index finger like a weapon. You being sorry doesn’t help me, he yelled. I feared he would strike me. That day was my last hearing ever. Everyone blames their lawyer for what happens later — no one talks about the price lawyers have paid, in dreams.


Filed under poetry, prose poetry