4 poems by Ronald Tobey from Four Liminal Moments Unprepared Encounters with Women

Stinson Lake Memoir


Near the last Iroquois Algonquin clash
you wear red lipstick
frosted pink
know I too am Abenaki
Maine ancestors near yours
paint me a warrior
kissing stripes on my cheeks
red your fingers
paint your mons war color
on my phallus too
command me to take my courage
from the liquor of your fertility
warning your competition
giving fear to our enemies.

Dorothy Hamill Ends My First Marriage


Dorothy Hamill ends my first marriage
1974
in your apartment on the third floor
of the Spanish revival hotel
above the blue-lighted swimming pool
palm-lined courtyard
warm eve of Valentine’s day
Southern California’s star-sparkle sky
we watch her win a national competition
navel orange blossoms
perfume the rooms
through an opened wood-mullion window
with eight lights
I call my wife
use the wall-mount phone
you walk over from the couch against the far wall
cover the black round mouthpiece with your hand
“I don’t want you to go”
you are twenty-two years old
married for one year
I will be late
Dorothy Hamill’s leaping double axel
astonishes television commentators
“10”s goes up on the board.

Girl in Stardust Café


You steal my heart away,
waitressing in Stardust Café,
somewhere between specials and dessert,
you decide to flirt,
between the tables dance your way
swing your skirt
as graceful as Salomé
while balancing platters on a tray –
kinder than she though I must say,
and softly linger tap my shoulder
to make me bolder.
If you read this verse by chance
likely not in “People” mag
or other national gossip rags
perhaps an anonymous note
pinned on the billboard in Ace Hardware
might these rhymes
suggest romance
do we dare
and rhythms of the lines
other joys, other times.

Waiting Room

In the ENT clinic waiting room
we half-dozen patients sit on alternate chairs
silent dutiful wear masks
your four-year-old bashful son in tow
orange “Paws and Tales” Halloween cartoons
illustrate his child’s size mask
lighted sneakers flash as he walks and jumps
eyes not glimpsing away from you
you navigate through the two storm doors
too preoccupied to acknowledge the elderly chorus watching
you stand at the closed reception window
explain his visit lift him for a forehead temperature scan
while you answer questions
sign and pass papers through a 1-inch slit.
I recognize your tight Diesel soft-denim jeans
a center-shot cartridge head on the belt buckle
tucked into your Autumn rainy weather cowgirl boots
the plaid shirt and a serviceable pony tail
swings like a wind sock at a rural pasture airport
pulling back your luxurious brown hair
you loved to drape over me.
When I am called into an exam room
do you hear my name?
You do not see me, I sit in the corner,
behind stars printed on the deep blue-black sky
drawn across my face
the same color as the ink
in my old Parker fountain pen, medium nib,
I used to write to you a year and half ago
my hands with early arthritis haltingly scratched letters
on the blank stiff cream-colored note card
my confused masked heart
the end of our affaire.

Bio from Ronald Tobey:

Ron Tobey lives in West Virginia, where he and his wife raise cattle and keep goats and horses. He is an imagist poet, grounding experiences and moods in concrete descriptions, including haiku, storytelling, and recorded poetry, and in filmic interpretation. He occasionally uses the pseudonym, Turin Shroudedindoubt, for literary and artistic work. He has published in several dozen digital and print literary magazines, including Truly U Review, Prometheus Dreaming, Broadkill Review, Cabinet of Heed, Atticus Review, Punk Noir, and The Light Ekphrastic. His Twitter handle is @Turin54024117