Bernard Jankowski


selflessly, playfully, makes me feel welcome.
"Come get Valentine's cut foor yoor honey honey?"
I half-smile, catch a quick glimpse
of my fading marriage,
then give over to the haircut.
They care for you here,
make you feel important,
use 3 different kinds of scissors,
and for the cherry on top,
put a dab of warm shaving cream
on each sideburn
and the back of your neck.
Then they bring out the sharp blade
and with master strokes
flick the foam away.

On the TV the authorities are talking
of the new terrorist threat.
The code has been bumped up a level
and everyone is nervous.
The prescribed pacifiers: duct tape and water.
But the stores are sold out,
so soccer moms frantically crisscross
back and forth
from Gaithersburg to Germantown
over to Kentlands and Quince Orchard,
arms full with struggling kids,
focused only on the primal mothering at hand.

"My husband could find no water.
You have water?
What should do? Fill bath tub?
If terrorist come, how long will take?
Few days? Will der be woor?
Here in Gaittersburg?"

I have no answers.

"I saw woor as little girl in Vietnam.
Woor is bad thing. Terrible thing.
They keel my family!
Woor is why I come to Gaittersburg."

She looks in the mirror,
focuses on my eyes,
then shakes it off
and smiles again like a girl.
Tussles my hair,
Massages my scalp.

"Now you look nice for yoor honey on Valentine's.
Reel shop! Call me here if you find water, OK, honey?"

Bernard Jankowski
Bernard Jankowski's first book, The Bullfrog Does Not Imagine New Towns, won the Washington Writers Publishing House Baltimore-Washington Contest. His poems have been published in journals such as Atlanta Review, Baltimore Review, Cumberland Poetry Review, G.W. Review, Poet Lore, Potomac Review, Sycamore Review, and Visions International. Mr. Jankowski has been a featured poet online on Poetry Daily. He is currently working with Boston-based blues pianist Bruce Bears on a recording of his Shamokin Monologues. Mr. Jankowski co-owns a business in Frederick, Md., which provides fundraising research and database consulting services to nonprofit organizations and publishing companies. He received his M.A. in Anthropology and Folklore from the University of Arizona and resides in Poolesville, Md.



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