January and other poems

by Becky Mancuso



He told me I was beautiful the way you tell someone they’re beautiful when you want to let them go.

There is ice on the window.


You think you will put me out

But I am still a match head.

Though not burning I will light when I want.




I’m stirring a lonely soup with more

Deliberateness than before

Male voices, but from next door.


I go to buy a few things

Milk and eggs cheap

I have only my own dust to sweep




The crow is lining up

pieces of corn along

the wall.


She is writing

You are not the master of the universe.


I head for home

Where the mice are in the basement

Counting my rice





Like olives and dates

Are Divine


They spill across the table

Heading their own ways

Grapes bounce then roll with lush delight

Dates unhurried

Slowed by honey


Olives’ sourness speeds them

To Freedom over the edge




This poem written but how many unwritten?

A streetlamp

One steaming breath

The moon




Patriot Pastimes


Wear white with eyeholes.

Burn some books.

Ban them then burn them,

Don’t write them.

Write on walls.

Wear overalls.


But only for a day or two.

Buy things

Keep these things from those people.


Eat more than anyone else

in the whole world.

Eat food that shouldn’t be.

Talk loudly in restaurants.

Make a baby and spread a disease at the same time.

Be practical!

Forget the baby and keep the disease.

Stand on a corner and shout to everyone

of searing and gnashing.

Ask them for money.

Don’t eat anything at all.

Be perfect!

Read magazines with sinking eyeholes.

Get a therapist and a gun.

Get famous for no reason

but only for a day or two.

Steal some children

Fry chicken.

Fry children.

Eat it on the way home.




Becky Mancuso is a professor of history at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio. Her academic work deals mainly with immigration history to North America. She knows she has to do other things besides reading books, so she enjoys camping, dancing and crochet.

Her poetry is often inspired by her travels, including to Merida, Mexico.


Art by Judith Shaw