Gail Fishman Gerwin
My husband Ken and I have two daughters and are the grandparents of three boys and a girl. My memoir Sugar and Sand was a 2010 Paterson Poetry Prize finalist and my second collection Dear Kinfolk, (www.chayacairnpress.com) earned a 2013 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. My fiction and poetry have been published in varied print and online journals, and I’ve written plays that have been staged in theatres and private homes. I enjoy facilitating poetry workshops and am associate poetry editor of Tiferet.
Author's Note: Fifteen years have passed since we anticipated the Millennium and its threats of world technology screeching to a halt, bank accounts decimated, power outages the norm. And yet we persist: we watch the ball drop in Times Square, we endure global chaos, we carry memories of New York City spewing smoke plumes, we grow families, we lose loved ones and icons, and yes, we continue to share poetry that disturbs and comforts the writing community. Thank you, Firestone Feinberg, for building a welcome stage for our productions. And Happy Virtual New Year.
New Year’s Eve in the Novelty Store
The man in the novelty store strode right
from his Lexus through the door with bells,
past the paper plates, pointed party hats,
fake spiders, dog doo, whoopee cushions.
The man in the novelty store headed right for
the masks, not the type that circles heads with
thin elastic that snaps within minutes, but those
that engulf an entire noggin, durable Donald Duck
heads, hirsute wolf heads, replicas of popular
presidents, Hollywood stars, superheroes.
It was near closing time, the store empty save for the
owners and me and this determined fellow who knew
what he wanted: a horsehead that looked as if it could
whinny on demand, lips curled above yellowed horseteeth,
a rutted-rubber mane.
The nosy in me wondered why, was it a New Year’s Eve
theme party? Were they going to ring in the year with
animal sounds? Or was he planning to wander streets
among townies high on champagne, strangers shrieking
Happy New Year to all while the man in the horsehead
trotted among them?
I couldn’t help myself so as I paid six dollars plus tax for
plastic glitter shaped like streamers and balloons at the
register where the horsehead rested, twenty-four-ninety-five
for a flaccid rubber replica that could come alive atop this
man’s graying pate, I asked him, are you getting ready
for next year’s Halloween?
Well, he told me and the dumbfounded storekeepers as well,
my wife likes horses so when our guests leave after the ball
drops at midnight, I plan to surprise her by coming to bed
as a stallion.
I fought my urge to picture him as a horse — with or without
striped pajamas — while our time zone zeroed in on new hopes,
instead offered that’s sooooo romantic (my writer’s block: gone!),
picked up my glitter, rang the door chimes, and stepped
into the snow toward the next year.
Hollywood soothes me with Tom Hanks
and Meg Ryan, the cutest pair ever to
not know that even though they hate
each other, they’ve found love in simpatico
online chats. Bing! You’ve got mail!
Where has that film gone? A year since
I last found it, oh how I miss Meg’s I wanted
it to be you so badly before Tom tells her
Don’t cry (he pauses) Shopgirl, wipes her
eyes with his folded handkerchief, kisses her
with pent-up passion while “Over the Rainbow”
blares around them in a flower-filled Manhattan
park, no one else in sight. An affable Retriever,
teeth on Tom’s jacket, barks the rhythm.
Cut to cloudless sky. The End.
As I approach vintage years, newness unnerves
me. I seek solace from the familiar: reruns, frayed
blankets, warmth from the sofa corner shaped
by the weight of my curled body in torn pajama
bottoms and a decades-old t-shirt that boasts
I took a steam train through the Sierras.
Channel surf. No luck.
Come back to the den,
Meg and Tom. Comfort me.
— from Loch Raven Review
©2015 Gail Fishman Gerwin