Copyright © 2012 Pirene's Fountain.


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Jane Yolen has over 300 published books, including about 70 books of poetry, all but six of which are for children. Her poetry books include: THE RADIATION SONNETS (Algonquin) AMONG ANGELS (with Nancy Willard for Harcourt Brace), THINGS TO SAY TO A DEAD MAN (HolyCow! Press) and the upcoming EKATERINISLAV: A Family’s Journey to Americ (HolyCow! Press), THE LAST SELCHIE CHILD (A Midsummer Night’s Press), and SPEAKING IN PEARLS (Papavera Press, a limited edition fine art press.)

Split Decision | Durak with Tea: A Prose Poem


Split Decision

The teapot’s lip has been split.
Accident my guest claims.
But poor Blue Denmark looks
the loser in a pub fight.
The Scandinavian brawler
v. Scotland’s finest Hardwood Floor.
He’s a dribbler now for sure.
Hot liquid spews in all directions,
hardly an advert for Afternoon Tea.
It’s retirement time. Maybe the Costa Brava.
Or a small dacha on the Sista River.
Only his lid can be saved,
and my stash of gunpowder tea.


Durak with Tea: A Prose Poem

They rarely played durak in the shtetle, too tired at night to set out the thirty-six cards. Though here in New Haven, it has become a cut-throat competition, for no one wants to be last with cards in their hands, to end up the durak, the fool with epaulettes. “Like a Russian general,” says Sylvia, “all medals and no mind.” As they play, Caruso sings from the gramophone, his voice a bit tinny, and they sing along loudly to La donna e mobile and Over There. At nine, Grandma makes the tea and puts out plates of rugelah, those sweet little bits of dough twisted around raisins, nuts, jam. On weekend nights, the grandchildren are sometimes invited to take a bit of pastry, which they stuff into their mouths quickly before grandma changes her mind, before they are packed off back to bed.

“From EKATERINISLAV, a book of my poems about my family coming to America, HolyCow! Press, 2012.”