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All poems previously published.

Itsy Girls

(final stanza of) ITSY GIRLS, first published in Out of Line; also appears in Time and Other Details.
Copyright © Paula Friedman 2006. All rights reserved.

We put away to save the paper Torah.
The golden reindeer’s antlers, itsy girl, are lost.
We put away the paper houses of Japan,
make a museum of the footless tiny frozen shoes.
There are photographs of big-eyed starving little girls
in the ghetto of Warsaw, in the caves above Peshawar,
in Harlem, over Islamabad
(and they all look like Anne Frank).
The golden retrievals of history. Take my hand.
The golden paper of dust.

Going Home

Excerpt from GOING HOME—A REUNION POEM
Copyright © Paula Friedman 1998. All rights reserved.

See there where the litter, heaped cardboard and cloths,
surrounds that worn door;
this was the emergency door,
old slit where one February night
we went in together to come out alone.
This was the door to the hospital once
where babies were born .

You

First published in Verseweavers 2005 (anthology of 2005 OSPA winners); appears in Time and Other Details
Copyright © Paula Friedman 2005. All rights reserved.

You wouldn't rent to us.
“They cry, they bring in all their friends”
you wouldn't rent to a single mother and infant
“they mess the walls /
they mess”

and you, partying below late (was it
retaliation for the baby's cries?)
petitioning the landlord”'
cause that baby's always howling!”

You too, Welfare,
you, “too busy,”
you, later, boss who kept
your re-entry clerical way past daycare closing
—and you, “school” system, making Fed bucks forcing
highstrung kiddies into ”special” treatment
                                —sorry, special ed
—to learn/ nothing,
to learn/
nothing, only how
to act institutionalized.

And you (you know who), shouting your
toddler into silence
                              so/ to keep
a home, refusing to ruin your body with tranqs
but pushing codeine syrup
so the coughing 2-year-old
might sleep (let you sleep) through the night
—though it never worked—

come take your medicine

you/
Momma/me,
you/ people, landlords, structure,
there where you don't
note the grown-up baby forever on his meds.

Leave quietly by the rear exit
                             (I don't think so)

Copyright © Paula Friedman 2010. All rights reserved.

I have a particular intolerance
for being lied to, or talked down to,
on health matters. I do not care to
“accept my place” “gal's out of date”)
here at your table-or pushed off it.
I have things to do yet; if you find
it uncool, whacky, one of those
old women's paranoic things
(and uppity, and out of place,
damned inappropriate)
should the lady think
not to keep still, not to go chat
over there with other Female Elders
on soft distant chairs, to not step
to the end of the line,
still asked to sacrifice—no, told,
persuaded, forced to “choose”
to die now, ’cause
“You’re all dried up
and downright useless
for a humpin’, Frailie” (’sides,
we just bought healthcare stock)—
no, do not lie to me
and do not ask again I go
by that rear-exit line
quietly, effecting policy,
your “I got mine”
your “Now go die.”

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