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Jim Reese is an Assistant Professor of English and the Director of the Plains Writers’ Tour at Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota.  He is co-founder of and Imagining Editor for Logan House Press. Reese's poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies: New York Quarterly, Nebraska Territory, South Dakota Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of Wedding Cake and Funeral Ham (Grizzly Press, 2002) and The Jive (Morpo Press, 2004). He is the co-editor of the anthology The Great American Road Show, along with JV Brummels (Logan House Press, 2003). His most recent collection of poetry is These Trespasses (Backwaters Press, 2005). Poems from this new book were recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize, 2005.

More about Jim Reese at the Nebraska Center for Writers


Three Poems:

Ten Penny High

On Friday nights at Vernon’s place
Felice, feeling loose,
unbuttoning clothes.

We chisel ice for our drinks
out of an old plastic ice-cream tub
long gone of vanilla and chocolate swirl.

The summer heat is unbearable.
Ice picks and iron fans,
humidity and cling.
Sitting on one of the kitchen’s mismatched chairs
Felice spreads her legs wide
and starts icing her cleavage and lips.

Vernon plugs in the record player
and starts spinning forty-fives.
Felice grabs us, leads us in dance.

“I got songs to bring it up,
and songs to take it down,” Vernon hollers.
“And don’t be taking advantage of my wife, you hear?”

Before long Vernon drifts off
somewhere else, sometimes
physically, looking for what he calls his
ten penny high.

“Some sugar is right through
that bedroom door,” Felice whispers,
tonguing our ears.

That’s our cue to leave.
We all think about it on the way home.
Some of us talk about it,
some of us joke about it,
some of us, sitting in the back seat,
don’t say a word.

[first appeared in The New York Quarterly]


707 Florence Boulevard

“Coltrane on the stereo, pushing up the volume
once again.” — Drive By Honky

is where we used to go
to buy beer back in high school.
Used to just go to the corner liquor store
until Vernon got smart and made us
pick him up at his apartment.
Always had to have an extra five dollars
to get him his fifth of Skol.

The apartment, with its flaking light blue walls,
smelled like a sweaty ass that hadn’t been wiped.
Todd Hanson wouldn’t even sit on the couch
until he passed out on it.
We stayed—always stayed too long.

There was no art on the walls,
just his daughter’s honor roll certificates
and a turntable in the corner spinning 45s.

We ate gizzards there. We drank and sang.
We danced with Vernon’s wife,
until she talked dirty to us. And the night
she asked Chuck Schmal to feel her up,
and he didn’t—the night she stabbed
Vernon in the stomach because he couldn’t
get it up—was the last time
we bought beer on a regular basis.

[first appeared in Poetry Motel]



Friday for supper
she prepared a tender roast
with all the fixings.
Beef, potatoes, gravy, onions,
carrots and corn.

We mashed the potatoes with our forks.
Slopped up the leftover gravy
on our plates with white bread.

On Saturday, for dinner, we had roast.
Beef, potatoes, corn—more bread.
Someone sliced a tomato.
Two of us shared a few
spoonfuls of gravy.

That night, for supper,
we had it again.
The beef and what was left
of the bread—mashed potatoes with butter
and a jar of applesauce.
We chewed and chewed.
thank the Almighty Lord,
we tackled the hock of a ham.

[first appeared in These Trespasses (2005)]





Jim Reese
Hartington, NE
Email Jim

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Last Updated: Tue, July 18, 2006
©2006 John Struloeff -- All Rights Reserved.