Issue No. 2, Autumn 2012

—for Annelies

Not the one carried by little red riding hood
Skipping through woods to grandma’s house
Not the metal one attached to my first bike
Nor the netted one through which I swished
My first free throw: There’s another basket
One we sit in patiently, tomatoes at a corner store
Each awaiting fingers, a squeeze, a test to reject
We are all tomatoes: skinny, fat, juicy red
Embarrassed by our flaws, our absent hot-house taste
My own basket, woven now for fifty years
Not made of straw nor woven strips of wood
At some point, we leave our baskets on the street
Outside some corner store, out in the air
Bare for all to see, to poke and squeeze and test
Look: See that man skipping down the street?
He’s light as a feather, a strip of straw
A girl on her way to grandma’s house

* * *

Café Pongo
—after a Danny Shannon cartoon

Even the horse, passive
a field of spring blades
bugs and bees, a hum

Even the horse, he without hands
a throne for tops in cowboy hats
a pleasing spur of pain

At first, those wind-dried lips
speak songs of one suede glove
one stroking one suede throat

Now those squint-eyed suns
stare off at other salmon clouds
someone else’s Gran Marnier

Even the horse understands
eventually, the lungs must pause
even frothy from a run

Jay Rubin teaches writing at The College of Alameda in the San Francisco Bay Area and publishes Alehouse, an all-poetry literary journal, at He holds an MFA in Poetry from New England College and lives in San Francisco with his son and Norwich terrier.