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January Vacation
by Marianne Szlyk

The blonde with the sweetheart neckline
walks up to the mic
for “Stormy Weather”
while the warm fog,
like a heavyset regular at the bar,
settles in outside.

The nearsighted bass player stoops
beneath the low ceiling.
The baby grand takes up space
used for dancing
when couples squeezed together and swayed
at supper clubs throughout the nation.
The saxophonist swings alone.

Servers scurry from table to table,
plying wine, beer, and cocktails,
offering separate desserts for all.

Behind scrubbed brick walls, you cannot hear
the freight train moan and stumble
its way to the coal mines.

PHOTO: “Freight train, Staunton, Virginia” by W. Nathan Simmons.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “January Vacation” is about a recent vacation that my husband and I took in Staunton, Virginia, a city that has intrigued me ever since I first took the Cardinal to Purdue University in 1996. (My husband and I go south for the winter but not that far south since I do not fly.) The poem itself was among several I wrote for a poetry challenge last July by the Ridgeline Literary Alliance. I begin drafting the poem by hand in a notebook. From the second draft on, I type and revise, expanding and then contracting, adding details and sometimes taking them out. This time around I shortened the poem quite a bit from my late drafts.

better picture of marianne

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianne Szlyk is the editor of The Song Is...and a professor of English at Montgomery College.  Last fall she published her first chapbook with Kind of a Hurricane Press. Her poems have appeared in a variety of online and print venues, including Silver Birch Press, Long Exposure, Bottlec[r]ap, ken*again, Of/with, bird’s thumb, Carcinogenic Poetry, Flutter Poetry Journal, and Black Poppy Review as well as Kind of a Hurricane Press’ anthologies from Of Sun and Sand on.  She hopes that you will consider sending work to The Song Is blogzine.