Thursday, July 15, 2021

Three poems by George Held

Dust under the Rug


How Mom loved that tale

of “Dust under the Rug,”

with all its didactic

clamor and finger-shaking



to instill fear in her

dopey kids, that is, me

and my little sister.


Sis was a sucker

for such dire threats and took

them to heart, while I shook

them off with precocious


cynicism. My mind

translated “dust” into

gunk, crud, dirt, crap, trash,


or roach carcasses, mouse

turds, squashed peas, and, older,

into lines of metered prose


memoir poems, neo-

Beat bombast – other stuff

I then stuffed under the rug.



in Japanese

are the Big and Little Dippers

or Ursa Major and Minor,

seen by the Greeks as bears.


Would we love them more as

Momma Bear and Baby Bear,

Teddy’s that inspire insipid

cartoons and commercials,


Or do we embrace them

because they seem close enough

to dip water from a barrel and pour

it into a glass or because

they are so terribly far away?




The ticket taker says, “Thanks, Boss,”

The laundry man says, “No starch, Boss,”

The cleaning lady says, “Next time, Boss,”


And you grate at being called “Boss,”

Because you used to be a soda jerk,

gas-pump jockey, delivery boy –

The Reporter-Dispatch, special-

delivery mail, pharmacy prescriptions –

and got chased by the snarling Doberman

in the yard (“Don’t worry—he’s quite friendly!”)

and called “You Fock” by your rotten boss,


so you smile and squash the urge to say, “Don’t

call me ‘Boss,’” and squelch the itch to

reply, “You’re welcome, Mother Fucker.”


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