Monday, February 14, 2011



No fun.
No gifts.
No one smiled at the shop.
Little legs,
never touched the floor,
never did anything but
swing back and forth…
Back and forth.
Little legs.
Little, little, little
legs kept swinging
back and forth…
Never knew back then
those legs…
those little legs
were filled with nerves.
Nerves connected to a heart
A worried heart.

he sat next to me,
both he and I stared,
stared for hours.
Stared, stared; stared
at an ugly witch lady who
carried thick white chalk.
She walked too slow.
Damn slow…
Still see her legs -
spindles, rolled down
stockings, brown sweater
and hair chopped
above her neck.
She made little legs
swing back and forth -
back and forth.

She glanced at Daddy
and me, shaking her head no.
Shaking that ugly head no.

Over and over…
Little legs, swing and swing…
Tired now, yet those nerves,
nerves I didn’t recognize
made them move…

Names were on a chalkboard,
never could read, just knew
where Mommy’s name was
placed. Knew. Knew
what her name looked like –
Daddy pointed it out…
That’s where little eyes stared.

People passed Daddy and I
carrying Milky Ways or
Three Musketeers. Some carried
Whitman Chocolates, balloons,
but I didn’t care….
never asked for candy, not then,
not on those days.
Daddy said hello to everyone,
told them my name…
I smiled,
didn’t want to smile but…
I smiled for Daddy…
would want me too.
From the corner of my eye
it was the ugly witch with a
piece of chalk I watched…
Chalk squeaking as she wrote,
sending chills up my back…

Marks appeared.
All those names with two
columns next to them – above
each step Mommy took,
recovery was first, then –
back to her room.
Everyone was getting chalk
marks, but Mommy, she
was always late, always last.

We kept sitting, waiting and
waiting. Daddy was nervous now,
talking little to people passing…
Now… watching a thin lady
carry chalk…

Daddy had feet which touched
the floor, feet that crossed and
uncrossed… Feet that tapped,
tapped, and tapped.
He assured me, soon…
Mommy would be back in her
room… so I smiled, he
always smiled back…
That witch lady never turned
our way, dam it – she knew we
were waiting; waiting for her
and that god awful hunk of white

Each time the phone rang,
she stood… slipped over to
the board… and finally the mark

My legs stopped. Daddy –
he stood up and stretched…
I just smiled, because I wanted

Daddy and I - we sat in front
of that gift shop, every other
month, side by side -
together in a love seat,
side by side - waited as
the years passed us by,
together, until the day Mommy

Even when my legs grew, and I
learned about nerves, I never
forgot that love seat, or the
witch lady carrying chalk…
I will never forget all the smiles,
waiting for love to survive.

Nancy Duci Denofio
@2011 all Rights Reserved
published in "What Brought You Here?" Dystenium LLC

Thursday, February 10, 2011



Did you walk with me
on these streets
where cars were once
cluttered, where men
in uniforms and white
gloves - stopped us?

Look, there was no over-pass
for trains or people hiding
from the rain - kissing.

Remember when we would
cuddle so close together
just past the over-pass
as you parked your Cutlass
behind the State Theatre?
Oh, I know you remember…

Yes – before the over-pass
did men and women our
age hold hands in front of
the Strand Movie House?
They walked for hours to get
there but for what?

The lines weren’t for James
Bond, or for free candy if
you purchased tickets
earlier in the day, no – it was
for bugs. Bugs – the owner
of the Strand, made children
line up against a wall while

heads were checked, all
the immigrants, those who
couldn’t speak a word of
English, has to prove they
could sit in one of their
chairs with other children.

You see, the man, he
sprayed those children, made
sure they didn’t bring inside
one single bug from -
Ellis Island, or had any
sticking to their tattered
sweaters. Wonder what they
were sprayed with?

Wonder if you forgot those
I will never forget you?
You disappeared as if taken
by a dark shadow behind red
velvet curtains -
Did the man remove you?
Were you an immigrant from
the past?

I know you never had bugs
nor did they check you at the
State Theatre – we were
someones dream back then, but
or those hot nights – on Route 9

when we enjoyed Malta Drive-in
outside movies, in cars, yes -
your Cutlass and yes, bugs
did come through open windows
opened to let some air inside
your Cutlass - remember
the stick you used to drive the
car between bucket seats?

Bugs did fly around us, but
did it matter?

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Sunday, February 6, 2011



Grandmother catches rain in
a rain barrel - near rows of dirt.
I play as my small fingers twist
a dented handle, like those I use
to turn on a faucet in our kitchen,
this one attached to a barrel –
that is, if eyes from upstairs on
the second floor aren’t watching

A girlfriend of mine, from across
a cut off, as to which school we
attend, just across the street – she
came to my birthday – brought me
a new set of plastic plates, cups,
spoons, cups, and a tea pot.

So, she made me so happy, I loved
red and white. I wonder if she picked
them out? I bet it was her Mama.

I fill white and red cups with water
from the old rusty barrel – serve my
dolls a special cup of tea.

In the middle of our tea party my
Mama complains from our side porch
about that clothes line stuck in the
center of our yard. I tell my dolls to
close their ears, not to listen to Mama.

I tell my doll, my favorite – she sits to
the left, with long reddish brown hair
and blue eyes, I talk to her as if she
were my sister – explaining a line of
rope has to divide our space to dry
clothes. She listens through closed

A few years ago my father’s father
chopped down a cherry tree, and an
apple tree, but we still have the pear
tree – growing fuzzy pears.

Pears are hard, but Grandma slices
them with her hands, her thumb sticks
out, she wants me to eat pears but I
don’t. She tells me, “Come on, they
are good for you,” still I say no.

So my tea party doesn’t include any
pears for dessert. Instead of pears,
we have red beans, like the plates,
I had to learn how to remove them
placing my little hand at the very top
of the stem, quickly pulling down – all
those green stems fall off with red beans
so I am ready, to serve those dolls.

Good thing we live on a corner lot,
where our sidewalk is longer – those
bushes with beans grow from one end
to the other. Grandmother - she sweats
when trimming those bushes, I stare,
watch – her arms opening - closing
holding big scissors.

I know she won’t ruin those red beans
because they just grow and she sweats
all summer, the same thing. Did I tell you
I mix mud from dirt near our barrel into
beans for mud pies. My dolls love mud
pies for a special treat.

Mama watches me from the side porch,
she isn’t complaining about our clothes
line, she is leaning over a yellow railing –
it was loose last week but Papa, he fixed
it. On our front porch Mama leans to snip
roses, “Seven Sisters,” even if she hates
them she snips them – places them onto
our kitchen table. Perhaps, I should have
flowers for my dolls?

When I ask my dolls, they don’t talk, all
they do is stare back, kind of like Mama’s
eyes when she stares at me, I know what
she wants. I think everyone stares in
my neighborhood including my neighbors,
Mama, Grandmother, and especially -
our grocery man.

I carry my favorite doll around to our front
porch, Mama is resting on our metal milk
box, inside I hide my paper dolls.

Next to Mama is her opened bottle of “Schlitz”
beer, some cut cheese, and lotion to tan
her pure white skin. And, her open pack
of “Chesterfield” cigarettes. When she
sucks in smoke she holds it inside for a long
time. Sometimes smoke comes out her nose,
circles her head, and reaches up to touch the
highest rose, those “Seven Sisters.”

Mother was one of five sisters. But, who
knows, she could have had a doll she called
a sister too?

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved @2011