Claire Scott

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Paid minimum wage to stand on the side
of the stage holding a flag or a sword
minor characters in someone else’s story
our feet falling asleep, trying to stifle yawns
and pay attention to this interminable play
so we wave the sword or flag at the exact right moment
not that anyone would know the difference
all eyes on the king and queen

Tonight we watch the lead poke out his eyes
(again) with his mother/wife’s broach
glittering glass rubies and diamonds
staggering off the stage with fake
blood streaming down his fat face
looking more like a lummox than a king
while the audience gasps and applauds
night after night not noticing
the flubbed lines, the blocking errors
two actors almost colliding
no one could see the prompter
signaling madly, spewing spit
no curtain calls for us, no flowers
at our feet, no mention in The New York Times
or the Chicago Tribune
no one realizing we could play a more
heartbreaking and heroic Oedipus
night after night at half the price

Jesus and the Lone Ranger

Jesus pictures plastered on bathroom walls
my mother in a manic phase
last time it was ordering from Sears & Roebuck
us girls picked dozens of dresses and skirts
including my favorite, a felt skirt with a poodle and a pair
of patent leather shoes with straps and silver buckles
packages arrived at the door every day
like homing pigeons or flocks of sparrows flying north for the spring
my father was furious, shouted he would call the police
to cart her off, he couldn’t take it any longer
she screamed it was God’s will, she had seen a sign
in her coffee grounds, he made her send everything back,
even the satin hair ribbons and the white socks with lace trim

I prefer the depressions
that come without promises and packages, clashes and chaos
she simply stays in bed all day, leaving her breakfast tray untouched
a pale skin of cream floating on her cold coffee
then I can eat the entire carton of mint chocolate
ice cream and turn on the tiny black and white TV
that only has three channels and watch
I Love Lucy or The Lone Ranger

Bloody Jesuses dangling from crosses
heads slumped, sad eyes staring, so many of them
dirty rags around their waists
hiding what my mother calls their private parts
which you never ever allow anyone to see
except your family and the doctor who pokes
and prods but at least you get a lemon lollipop
she doesn’t know about Stan next door who gives me
a quarter if I let him see, fifty cents if he can touch
I know it is a serious sin, but Stan and I play Parcheesi and
Sorry! after and we eat popcorn and laugh a lot
although I toss and turn at night, nightmares of horned devilsĀ 
happily tossing sinners into heat and horror

My mother says we must pray whenever we see a picture
of Jesus and now they are everywhere,
peering at my private parts when I pee

I see her weaving down the stairs, wearing a silver tiara
and a pair of worn grey underpants
I pray for a white horse to gallop to our door
I will hop on his back, seize the reins and
Hi Ho Silver, Away!


Claire Scott is an award-winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called andĀ  Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.