Friday, February 4, 2011


Note: the Cherry Road deli first appeared in my poem Creatures Of The Sea.

On Cherry Road, near Catalpa,

Is a little deli.

Joan of Arc leads her horse inside and down the narrow space between the counter and tables;

He is white and magnificent.

His hooves are loud on the tiled floor, his eyes large and brown, and he snuffles and tosses his head once

As if to say,


I am beautiful in my blue blanket with the gold fleurs-de-lis,

A fine steed for knight or saint.

Joan of Arc herself is tired and wounded, but her gentleness with her mount never fails,

And it hurts her to tie him up out back

Near the dumpsters.

When she comes back in, the Pretty Girls having lunch there say,

Look at her,

That haircut.

Those clothes.

She smells.


Joan of Arc cannot read the menu.

She pauses uncertainly, and the Pretty Girls giggle, just loud enough to make sure she hears.

Rod McKuen, the famous poet, owns the deli and he smiles as if he were a love poem himself;

When she hesitates, he suggests the roast beef on French loaf.

Certain breads

(he says)

Rejuvenate the soul.

Certain cheeses

(he continues)

Revive flagging spirits.

He points to each one as if touching the well-loved skin of a long-time partner,

Describing each

In gentle words that would make the hardest churchman weep.

The Pretty Girls are scandalized.

Open-mouthed, they look back and forth to each other.

He's talking to her.

Horse chick.

With the weird hair.


Joan of Arc sheds holy tears.

Her wounded shoulder bleeds.

The drops fall to the glass of the deli case and form shapes--

St. Michael.

St. Margaret.

St. Catherine.

Rod McKuen fixes her a sandwich with the same reverence he would use in composing verse,

Then slides it on a plate across to her

Along with a cherry Coke

As if it were the Host.

He adds an apple

"For your friend."

The Pretty Girls all get up and leave,

Their matching shoes and handbags from London making them look just like

A defeated army

In astonished retreat.



TALON said...

I remember well the Cherry Road deli.

"He adds an apple
"For your friend." " - perfection.

and the last two lines? Not only awesome, but totally delightful.

Awesome, Shay!

Trellissimo said...

Be kind to animals, eh? LOL

Susannah said...

Shay, I am sitting here with a big grin on my face. Your words delight me. :-)

Brian Miller said...

ha, damn the pretty girls...i'd takeone on a horse with grit anyday.

ellen abbott said...

this is lovely shay and I love the little triumph at the end.

Sioux Roslawski said...

As always...blown away. This kind of reminds me of John Prine's "Jesus: The Missing Years."

I included a link to your poem in my blog today.

Everyday Goddess said...

Magical. I love it.

Cloudia said...

There is golden version of this statue in Philly and I know it effected me

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral


Cloudia said...

'astonished retreat'

lotsa cool word machines, you!

hedgewitch said...

The Pretty Girls have no frame of reference for Joan, it seems. She has not been on American Idol enough.
I'm glad someone fed her so poetically, and her horse.

Mama Zen said...

Pleasing God, indeed.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

How did I miss this? I just found it now. omg. (hee hee) I LOVED every word of this story, grinning away like a delighted pumpkin:) GREAT poem, great story. omg.

Ami Mattison said...

Funny, clever, and still manages to be touching. The soldier-saint meets the poet. Lovely.

Lynn said...

I loved those last lines, too. And Joan of Arc rocked!

Tammy said...

Absolutely delightful in so many ways.

Katie Gates said...

Linked over here from Sioux's page. Wonderful story.

Marion said...

This is just awesome, FB. I love it. xoxoxo