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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

First Love Poem in Clockhouse Review

Two of my poems appear in Volume 10, the 2023 issue of Clockhouse Review, the literary journal of the Clockhouse Writers’ Conference of Goddard College. One is about love and the other about fashion and color. Both are true stories. The journal is beautiful and contains fiction, non-fiction and even drama selections besides poetry.

The first poem tells the story of my first boyfriend, Lester, based on a single incident that all these years later, I remember well. The other is about the many nuances of black. This occasion also really happened. I had dressed to go somewhere and my young adult daughter pointed out that my blacks didn’t match. I never knew until then that blacks could clash!!!

Tuna Sandwiches

I thought we were poor until the Saturday

my new boyfriend’s mother invited me

to go with their family to the beach. I was

fourteen, her son sixteen. We were so shy,

meeting at a Catholic school dance,

we moved together without touching.

He had gentle eyes; didn’t talk much

into my chatter. It was a month before

our sweaty hands met in a dark theater,

the intensity of nearness the film’s only plot.

That Saturday, his mother gave me a can

of tuna and a loaf of white bread and told me

to make ten sandwiches. I blushed for her,

her face stiff and dry-eyed, and mashed the tuna

thin, spread a bit between bargain slices.

I don’t remember what we did that day

although we probably played softball,

the family’s favorite pastime. And that boy

probably found me a heart-shaped shell. 

I do still recall the chipped Formica

of the kitchen counter, and how the bread

sprang back with the pressure of my knife.

His mother testing me, wanting for her son

respect as much as love, unable to mask

her envy for the bliss of my first crush.

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