Thanksgiving month has brought us these poems from Millicent Borges Accardi. Expect more over the next few weeks. We count Accardi high on the list of  Poetry Friday Friends for whom we are grateful, and we happily offer you her words of recollection and comprehension as gateways to your own.

He Only Seemed

Like my Uncle, tall, thin
And wearing dove grey
Suits with a 1940’s hat.
In photographs, through the years,
Sent with the five dollar
Christmas money, we heard
About Arthur Martineau’s
Protective mother, his walks
To mass with shopping after
On Acushnet Avenue,
For purses for my Aunt.
There is some luck involved
And that is all that I know.

We heard he was kind and took
Up with Aunt Sally after
Her three week marriage
To Mr. Ford had ended,
When Sadie decided she
Would rather be a flapper
Telephone operator,
Pronouncing Nine
As if it had three syllables.
There is some luck involved
And that is all that I know.

We never knew the truth
But figured Sally was crafty
That it would have been
Her that did the leaving.
Although, looking back,
It was strange she kept
His name all those long
Years. A Ford instead of
A Thornton, or a Martineau.
Or, even, as a child I wished,
She were Markham like my own
Grandmother, her sister.
There is some luck involved
And that is all that I know.


Between the counter,
You and I work the swing
Shift. Food all night
Long, consuming us, as we
Fumble in our aprons
For pens. I can almost
Taste your smell.
Your face, like onion soup
I want. Long, hungry and
Awake, we pause together
Like cars at a stop sign.
Pause now, we are my hand
Near your trousers.
Take a breath, we are
Full of each other.
Full of your rummy skin.
Full of your slick hair.
Full of my calves.
Our hands now inside
The oily restaurant
Grill of you and me.
We press together
At the counter, serving
Coffee, writing checks.
We shift position,
Smoothing, changing
Places for side work,
Wiping off ketchup
Lids, filling sugar
Dispensers while looking
Down at our legs.
As if we are under
Water, I see the slow curls
Of sweat in your hair.
We have a fast drink
Later, after work,
Confirming the tips
As they are packed
In tall stacks of coins, inside
Paper cylinders ready
For the bank.

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  • Kati Duffey Schwartz November 23, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Millicent….I love the imagery of both poems. You are a talented poet! More..more….more!!

  • H Greene November 21, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Swing Shift is full of vivid imagery yet it leaves something for the imagination. As an abstract painter I relate to the pictorial elements of Millicent’s work and that she doesn’t completely spell everything out.

  • Lin Van Gelder November 21, 2010 at 10:37 am

    I enjoy Mill’s poetry so much – it evokes time and space so well. In “Serving” one can feel the passion that is so present and overlooked when we move through our days, but Mill is aware and she is unafraid to reveal us to ourselves. Love it.

  • Hillary Branoff November 21, 2010 at 12:52 am

    These poems feel like jazz to me. A joy to reach each line to be surprised in every moment. Thank you for your brilliance, passion, creativity and courage to share!

  • Diane Martin November 20, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Good poems! I like the “Telephone operator,/Pronouncing Nine/As if it had three syllables.”

  • Georg Kickinjah November 20, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    you bring your family alive for me in “He Only Seemed” and leave my heart wondering about aunt Sally, and then your “Serving” sets things aflame during a busy night working the “swing Shift” in a restaurant

  • Sharon Auberle November 20, 2010 at 11:44 am

    excellent poems! they are so filled with the human condition…and they make it seem alright…

  • Tom Traub November 20, 2010 at 10:29 am

    “Serving” is wonderful. It does everything very well that a poem should, but it also does something more.

  • Evelyn Conlon November 20, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Ah, how nice to read these poems while having Saturday morning breakfast in bed in Dublin. Only place to be, hanging out with the flappers as the International Monetary Fund Fellahs look after their money. That poem is as long as a history book.

  • TONY WINDLE November 20, 2010 at 1:16 am

    right there – very nice.

  • RustiLee November 20, 2010 at 12:05 am

    I adore the visual images of these relatives in “there is some luck” and the sensual aspects of “Serving.” Awesome work.


  • Lisa J. Cihlar November 19, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    And that is all I know. Love it! Both of these are beautiful poems.

  • EM Lewis November 19, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Wonderful poems. The first speaks to me particularly — so vividly imagined! Thank you, Millicent!


  • Sonja Hinrichsen November 19, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    they are great. like the ones in your little chapbook that I read on the train from LA to San Francisco they create a storyline, but leave a certain vagueness/openness, so that the reader can spin the rest of the story in their imagination. I always like artwork that does this, regardless whether it’s literary or visual artwork. It is an ambitious goal to engage the reader/viewer/audience and provoke thought.

  • tad richards November 19, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    You use those short lines so effectively. They’re powerful and they move the poems so well.

  • edie irwin November 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    I love the visuals your words paint…. as your ideas are “inspired” in my mind, not given in total…. so that the story line continues in my own imagination unhindered.