Three Poems by Linda Laderman


Mother worries.
No man, money, or prospects.
Her hopes dwell in a junk drawer,

crammed with S&H Green stamps.
I help paste the multi-colored
squares into redemption books.

We cover each page in hues of yellow,
blue, green, a quilt of stamped wishes-
a color T.V., a hot pink Schwinn starlet.

On market day, she cozies up to the grocer,
her smile warm as a fresh-picked peach.
He winks and gives us double stamps.

Every Saturday morning, Mother sends me
to the corner drug store with a signed note.
Please sell my daughter a carton of Lucky Strikes.

She unravels the gold tape,
then taps the pack against her palm.
My cue to get her lighter.

The tip of her cigarette glows, like a birthday
candle dangling from her mouth. I picture
it burning to the end, ash singeing her lips.

She offers me a drag.
Cigarette between my fingers, she grabs it back.
Not yet, we still have more stamps to paste.



A neighbor stops me,
Your ex is ill. He’s at Mercy.
I say nothing.
It’s been 20 years.
But what do I know about time?
I was 19 when I met you.
My emotions split, like bark on the birch
that stood behind our first house.
I rehearse my response.
Should I embrace you?
Will my nervous laugh,
the one you mocked, return?
An attendant shows me to your room.
Family only.
I hear the whir of machines
How bad is it?
I wonder if you remember
when I cheered your name,
hurrying from the stands
to find you under the time clock.
You said I shared your victories.
Privacy was the prize I coveted.
Filling your body with spurious cures,
you recoiled when old people
discussed their diagnosis.
Now your time is measured in doses.
A nurse asks if I’m your wife.
I tell her, I’m just about to leave.
You murmur; we did ok for a while.
I nod, slide my forgiveness into your palm.


Delivery Day

My stepfather takes ten boxes of Thin Mints,
making me the top sixth grade seller.
On delivery day I wait for my mother,
eager to hand over the stack of boxes.
When there’s no sign of her car,
I ignore the mid-March chill,
patches of muddy snow,
and walk the eight blocks home.
I see a row of cars parked on our drive.
Feeling bad news, I pick up my pace.
Mother, bare-armed, stands on our porch.
She motions for me to run.
Can’t she see my full arms?
Where was she today?
She points skyward and cries,
I found him upstairs.
I am still. My feet planted in mud.
How will I pay for what he took?


Linda Laderman grew up in Toledo, Ohio. She earned an undergraduate degree in journalism from the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University in Athens. Her news stories and features have appeared in media outlets and magazines. Her poetry has been published in a number of journals, including The Scapegoat Review, The Write Launch and 3rd Wednesday. Her poem, War Ghazal is forthcoming in Writers Resist. Linda currently lives in the Detroit area, where for the last decade, she volunteered as a docent at the Zekelman Holocaust Center.

Three Poems by Melinda Coppola


What if we had drills,
not just for disasters, fires
and hurricanes, not just
for active school shooters
and any possible terrorisms
both foreign and domestic,

what if we had rigorous
training in kindnesses:
how to recognize them incoming,
start a volley with the perpetrators.

Imagine preparations
for frequent barrages
of mutual respect,
muscle building
and visual exercises
to increase aim with
arrows of understanding,
rehearsals in how to see
in another,

and, at last,
commonwealths of decency
brigades of beneficence,
great infantries of amity,

drilling to hone skills
of making, and giving,
and keeping,


Seeing Through

In the summer, after rain,
six years since our last. Meeting
over mint iced tea this time her weary
eyes, careless gray hair fell, heavy,
onto drooped shoulders. The blouse
so inappropriate, I thought, seeing
right through it. A woman should
wear a nice bra at least, I thought, seeing
right through.

I hadn’t wanted it, this awkward date.
She’d caught me off guard with her call.
These days I loathed forced smiles,
cheeriness that smothered the bare
truth of my life. Avoided Let’s have coffee
at all costs. Off guard.
I tried not to look again at her
tasteless I thought again bra
that wisp of a blouse on one her age
seeing through it. Right through.

Focused now on her thin lips, feeling
downright mean
I made to-do lists in my head
as she went on and on trying
to reach a point, perhaps, or find words
…died….I heard her say
murdered in his apartment. They think
my heart skipped a beat
it was a random burglary he
shame crept crimson into my selfish
was to be twenty the next day.
Her eyes bore holes into my skin, words
peeled away my feeble layers. Seeing right through.



It is a blessing
to find those things
that save us
in small ways.

At the checkout counter
a teenaged boy
offered to carry groceries
for an old couple.
They said yes,
and I was quietly saved.


Melinda Coppola has been writing in some form for nearly five decades. Her work has been published in several magazines, books, and periodicals including I Come from the World, Harpur Palate, Kaleidoscope, The Autism Perspective, Spirit First, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Welcome Home, and Celebrations. An artist, Yoga teacher and mom to an amazing daughter with special needs, she enjoys infusing her work of heart with her voice as a poet.
Melinda nourishes her creative spirit with singing, early morning walks, collecting and making art with beach stones, cooking, spending quiet time with her husband and daughter, and communing with her cats.