About Fifty

By Alex M. Frankel

I got a Spaniard to love me once

for a week   we rode his Vespa

wove through traffic in the heat

his back was hard fragrant   José Luis


The sleek bodies that climb the ladders of water slides

the popular cocky ways young males have

of sliding into blue


I’m sure I smell    who will tell me honestly


Friends have no time


My plants are unwell    every last one

the flourishing life my birth mother left me


When I looked in   her body lay there

still hooked up to monitors

mouth half open   tongue half out

she lay there propped up    more tired   more finished and alone

than dead


What does it mean   this cough

who can I ask that knows

who would be brave and tell me


The plants accept help willingly

then wither some more


José Luis

I shut my eyes and I’m in Spain

it’s May and it’s dusk and the swallows are back

and what a smell of oranges in my hands


Alex M. Frankel is a poet in Los Angeles. He hosts the Second Sunday Poetry Series and his first collection, recently published by Lummox Press, is entitled Birth Mother Mercy. His website is www.alexmfrankel.com. In addition to poetry, he writes reviews, essays, and short fiction; currently he’s working on a memoir about finding his birth parents.

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