Cecele Kraus

Her Song

Mother never drank

or smoked cigarettes

wore flowered print dresses

her slip often showed.

Stepping from choir loft to pulpit

she joined Daddy in duets

and with a voice as jagged as Kitty Wells’

sang of green pastures

lions lying down

with lambs—fought off

the honky-tonk angels

and cheating hearts hiding

in her low tones, kept sin

and pride at bay—but not her desire.

Sheepishly, eyes askance

she slipped a hand in her bodice

tugged her bra strap into place.


Ghost Riders in the Sky

Words opened our Chevy, pierced

with possibilities. Daddy sang along

with the Sons of the Pioneers

as we crossed the Black Warrior bridge.

I saw those tortured beasts

red-eyed cows in the devil’s herd

that roamed Indian mesas and died

doomed to forever roll the heavens

cattle possessed by spirits of cowboys

punished for unrepentance, banished

to stampeding herds. Daddy and I

didn’t talk much, but music bound us—

He shall feed His flock and plain hymns

such as We’re marching to Zion.

Did Daddy see what I saw?

Did he repent? Mourn?

At our usual diner the tinny jukebox

played Buddy Holly’s Come along

and be my party doll. I dropped in a quarter

to hear it six more times

singing along all by myself.


I was in private practice as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist for many years—first in Manhattan, and then suburban New Jersey and Chatham, New York.  I have participated in workshops at the New York State Writers Institute and the Millay Society.  My poems have appeared in such journals as Naugatuck River Review, Windfall, Chronogram, The Literary Gazette, Backstreet, Zephyrs, and Java Wednesdays (anthology chapbook of my Albany poetry group).  I self-published Dreaming Barranquilla (Troy Book Makers) in 2009.  My chapbook, Tuscaloosa Bypass, was published by Finishing Line Press in April, 2012.  I have served as literature chair at the Roe Jan Community Library for the past 2 ½ years.  It has been a great pleasure to establish a vibrant poetry program for National Poetry Month in my community.

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