Itasca Illinois Poetry & Willow Tree Dreams

Emily Strauss

Emily Strauss has written poetry her whole life, mostly focused on the natural surroundings of the West. She camps alone frequently to immerse in the special beauties and silences of the desert and mountains. She is a retired English teacher, and lives in Silicon Valley. Currently more than 200 of her poems appear in public online and in anthologies in dozens of venues.


Finally in Vancouver
By Emily Strauss

He was just home from Vietnam
shocked and angry, violent without
knowing why—
she was just out of her first year
of college, very young, very ignorant
misguided, searching—
they were heading to Alaska for work
in a dented white van,
3-speed-on-the-column she couldn't
drive, Indian-print curtains on the window,
with a pound of weed
and three pounds of smoked sausage.
By Vancouver they were out of cash
parked at the water's edge where
the highway ended, facing the ocean
and each other on the mattress
in the back, the Doors blaring
from the speakers, she too afraid
of his moods and he afraid of
this peace, this girl, this quiet
life without bombs and snipers,
neither could see a road uncharted
neither knew how to proceed
she wanted to please, he wanted
only to escape, to forget.
They tore at each other in pains
the other could not imagine
as the waves lapped the shore,
while they sliced off bits of their
meat stash and their thin shells,
exposing hunger and raw edges.

On Observing the Crowd at the Rock Concert
By Emily Strauss

We are old and fat now
we are pathetic—
I'm grateful I have no children
to ridicule me—
we have no business in tight
jeans, tattoos, pierced scrota
hanging out at Burning Man,
we have no right to fake
cool as the kids stare
in horror, as we limp
to our convertible Audis
our gray wisps of hair
will blow sideways.

We can't pretend anymore
to swagger and wink at our
shared outdated memories
our history only means
we attend rock concerts
bald, jowled, with plunging
cleavage a jiggling pillow
of soft flesh.

Too smug we sit back
hold hands, choose designer
distressed jackets, flash
tickets to shows of geriatric acts
as if we will all live forever
to sway in time to their music
like granny who sat by the radio
waiting for the next Big Band
as Elvis and Muddy tore up
the stage for boys in white socks
or girls in long skirts and flowers.

Pathetic we will play along
in vain.

Typing Class
By Emily Strauss

At that time boys didn't type
so eighth grade typing class
was girls only, the hour after
lunch in the spring when
the air sat hot in the aluminum
trailer and we stared out
the windows at the kids playing
on the field. It was 1964
and the Beatles were a tidal
wave, so popular they were
everything, the sole topic
of conversation other than
boys— the question of the day
was 'what is French Kissing' —
none of us knew, and we still wore
saddle shoes with white socks
typing each page of exercise—
S / D/ F/ G and
q /w/ e/ r
I learned to type moderately
I learned every Beatles song
I even learned French Kissing
the next year and hated it
from a Senior boy with blond
hair— we only kissed once—
and I typed term papers
for guys in college because
they never learned how
though they all learned kissing,
and now every child types
automatically on his tablet
the Beatles are old history—
there are no typing classes

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