Carol Graser

The Ironing Board

The Ironing Board hasn’t left the closet in years

She sneezes at her own dust

clatters on to the damp mop

about the old basement laundry

the joys of never being collapsed

I used to hold things, she says

She goes on about the iron

and that tricky heat, the ashtray

the cigarettes with their

smooth spirals of smoke

the diet pepsi always tinkling her ice

The Ironing Board  was essential

and sturdy in her time

her crossed T-legs held up

countless indeterminate moments

Every day she stood

in front of that washer and dryer

like exact proof of a mother


Now she’s given up her dreams

for a new wardrobe of linen shirts

She makes a dash for it one spring

cleaning afternoon, lets her sturdy legs

take her on a giddy, hobbling flight

No one hears from her for months

There’s an uncomfortable hope

that she’s made it to the edge of town

has found some peace

or repurpose at the city dump

She turns up eventually in the park

feeding chunks of bread to intransient ducks

I miss the cigarettes, she says to a mallard

and the pepsi and the melting ice

She leans back against the sun-warmed bench

The iron was kind of a bastard, she breathes

folding and unfolding her legs


Portrait of a Poet Unhappy With the Size of His Crowd

His ears were new in town but he’d

been listening to them all his life. His hair

had receded into these ears, disappeared

entirely from his head. The mustache

that lived on his lip was a healthy

much loved dear, a deliciously pampered

only child. He could open his mouth

lift the moustache lid

and tell you everything about his teeth

He came up my stairs dreading

niceties, introduced himself as a caricature

I wanted to erase. At our wedding

reception his brother exposed himself

to the bridesmaid while an earthquake

toppled honeymoons in the tropics

We moved into a moldy home furnished

at bargain prices. Mornings I drank

strawberry daiquiris in a soft blue

bathrobe and wrote poems about nausea

He died first and I had his mustache removed

in one piece. I wanted to see

if it could fly

I wanted the casket closed


Carol Graser runs the poetry reading series at Saratoga’s legendary Caffè Lena and has performed her work at various events and venues around New York. Her work’s been published in many literary journals and she is the author of the poetry collection, The Wild Twist of Their Stems (Foothills Publishing).

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