Four Poems

by April  Jones

Milk Money

Thick footsteps lead my father off

the wooden porch, he’s going to the neighbors’

and I am poking at a plate of beans and macaroni and

cheese, staring at a green swing set. The fence door slams shut.


Today I stole a quarter

before lunch we go to the bathroom.

The girls in one line, boys in the other. Mrs. Robinson

makes us put our milk money on the brown table against

the wall. Today I forgot my milk money,

when I get back from the bathroom with clean hands

I walk past the table of quarters and take one. One side silver

with a head on it, the other side painted red.


A little girl tugs

at Mrs. Robinson’s pity

with tears in her eyes.

Each of us had to show our quarters,

I showed the silver side.

I put the chocolate milk on my tray

and hand the lunch lady my

red-sided quarter.


When my father comes home

he walks past me. When my mother

comes outside to get my plate, one

of her cheeks is red

like my quarter.

Raspberry Bush


In the heat of the afternoon, right off the school bus

she will come and find me napping between these two,

tall skinny trees. She finds my branches bare until she spills

her secrets into my leaves. Her tear find my roots, her eyes

are my night, my sun. Her secrets are bitter but I make them sweet

nestled between tiny seeds, covered in juice. The same juice

that will coat her puckered lips, and gives her the smile that she will take

with her when she leaves me to my solitude between these two, tall

skinny trees. I am a raspberry bush, easily forgotten, and the keeper of

little girls’ secrets. Secrets that they keep hidden under their covers waiting

for the night to end.
The Lord Calls an Unwilling Number
When I was seven I put my cat in a Christmas popcorn tin,
one of those big ones with five different kinds of popcorn,
she meowed at tried to climb out, but I closed the lid
she fought against the metal, scratching, meowing, and finally knocking it over
until I opened the lid. Her pink nose dripped blood as she jumped out and hid
under the bed.
The cold water like metal around her ears and throat
his hands around her neck pushing her head against the bottom of the bathtub
the sounds of arms and legs thudding against the porcelain
her hands trying to brace her weight, slipping under the water, his pressure
against her body, the watery screams of her children in the doorway, her own
lost in bubbles. When she comes out of the bathroom, wet and wide-eyed,
their daddy stands up and leaves. When he leaves he doesn’t come home again
because the Lord calls his number.
When my cat comes out from under the bed she won’t look at me,
or go near the popcorn tin covered in smiling snowmen. She can still feel my
metal hands around her neck, and the smell of blood in her nose. She won’t
let me touch her.
Mayan sounds like a breathy jungle song intertwined with the crisp snap
of the end of my first love. He went to Mexico and I went to Idaho, somewhere
in between I forgot all about my promise, and he forgot how to be kind. I can still see
him huddled under a plastic roof in a tin hut scribbling letters to me in the pouring
rain in a language I didn’t understand. I can still hear the sound of his laugh lingering
thick in the summer night as we made excuses not to go home. He gave me a ring,
I gave him a reason to come home from the jungle and then a reason to leave me
forever. He sends me a letter, I call, he sends daisies, I call, he stops answering, and I
forget why I loved him in the first place. By the fall we pretend to have forgotten
each other but we will always be hidden inside the steady song of Tennessee
crickets and humid summer nights. Parts of us buried in the Mayan jungle waiting
for the rain.
APRIL JONES began writing fiction in elementary school, but by college she was writing poetry almost exclusively. She reads everything from product labels to best sellers for fun. She is a full-time mother of two, and enjoys snacking on peanut butter M&Ms while writing. She has a B.S. in English and an M.F.A.


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