Jeanie Tomasko ... a few poems



Confessional Poem  

Afternoons I dream in Catholic. I am sitting outside a window of the Holy Church of
The Unanswered Prayer. It is a Tuesday evening in late March and all my friends
are bored with their Catechism. I’m practicing the Sign of the Cross and reciting the
I Believe Ins. I’m the only one not making fun of the tall skinny nun they call Sister
Mary Toothbrush, but  when I get up to answer her question, no one can see me. 
What do you believe in, she asks. I believe in the Holy Crumb and the Wine in the
lower fridge. I’m following the Pope on Twitter, and when he hops a city bus I
believe I want to marry him. I believe I’m catholic and then I wake up. I am serious. 
I’m not sure what to believe anymore, but I’ve started by collecting Virgins from a
Mexican gumball machine in a city on a river not far from home. So far I have #s 2, 
6, 9 and 10 of 10. In my free time I google Spanish translation, type the words into
the pronunciation box and practice: Mistica Rosa. Amor Ardiente. Corazon de
. O, Shiny Mary, Refuge of All, I don’t know what I am saying but the words
feel right and when I say them in another tongue I believe I believe in something.

Ironing, a Litany

                                    “to do this ministry one needs to have a washer,
                                      ironing board and steam iron.” --Holy Cross Bulletin, May 2014

Blessed be those who have

Blessed be their coffee and cream their smell of steam behind the scene work of women their clean white kitchens their all manners of clotheslines

Blessed be the unhurried and the ironing

Blessed be the Online History of Ironing  (see: Ironing, 1950s, drudgery) 

Blessed be the Treatise on Domestic Economy, 1842, the bosom board on which to iron shirt bosoms … one foot and a half long and nine inches wide, and covered with white flannel

Blessed be as soon as school was out in summer 1967, iron/fold/iron/fold/iron now the size of your
father’s pocket quarter-fold stack a week’s supply and the I’ve been saving these for you for a month and the but why do they need to be flat when they’ll just get messed up again

Blessed be the reasons why

Blessed be Permanent Press
                 Wash ‘n Wear
                 Durable Easy-Care
                 Blessed be Dacron & Polyester
                 and the mysteries of Brooksweave    
Blessed be learning to sew and iron open the seams and me on the chair my mother with pins in her mouth asking how short and pinning 3 inches longer than I said anyway

Blessed be the smell of steam and scorch and starch and press

Blessed be Mary ironing in order for next day church pressing first buttonhole placket sleeve length smooth yoke side seams shirttail collar last

Blessed be Christina of Virginia who survived a Black and Decker Digital and wrote (without punctuation) I was ironing yesterday I walked out of the room I heard a popping at the first I thought it was normal I came back to the room the iron was fire all the handle and inside melted I unplugged

Blessed be the buttoning up
                      buttoning down
                      unbuttoning of
                      the holy and crisp
                      unwrinkled white Oxford

Blessed be My Perpetual Birthday List: 
                                                             White Blouse
                                                              Full Size Ironing Board
                                                              Rowenta Model #D9080 Steam Iron for $175
                                                              (but make it last for more than a year) 
                                                              Cotton Clothes
                                                              White Blouse
                                                              More Time

Blessed be the Chosen Catholic Ironers of the Holy Cross and the un-Chosen un-Catholic who want to take the Purificator and the Corporal home and would convert to smooth them out on a Full Size 

Blessed be the pile to be done 

Blessed be all who iron and pray for the world to be flat once more   

—Published in The New Guard

God Spills across the Grass

I read God but it was really gold, gold
spills, it does, across the grass

like pennies  
or an afternoon

or that afternoon a week ago
you and me up at the lake

how I said I don’t want to believe
in nothing

as we sat on driftwood, talking,
our pockets full of beach glass

but there is no way to know
if God comes after this. 

I couldn’t find words for
how it would be, walking

without you, there, if, 
someday, and if so,

I’d want to know you were there
somehow and that prayer   

is not just another word for sadness. 
There are no answers

except maybe in the way light
spills across the water, 

or the way
deer we never saw

left tracks while we were talking. 
Maybe it’s all a gift, spilled—

the way I went on thinking
about how trust works

and then the potter in his shop
pulled a bug from my hair

and set it free and said send
me a check
when we didn’t have 

enough and if we can’t trust
each other what have we? 

It’s how I live and I trust you
he said, and gold or God

or something just like that,
spilled into our hands.

Crossword Sonnet: Codes

1 Across: Knot in the middle of the spine. 2 Down: The
spine of the matter. 3. Matter at the corner of the eye.
4. I, you, word for us. 5. Word for tonight. 6. I can’t
________ anyone. 7 Down: The Truth.  8 Down: Word
for wild joy—(see 9 Across.)  9. Across from me at your
shiny steel counter, you, taking orders for fries, burgers;
on our breaks they won’t let us talk so we write notes
to each other (10) across: fast food order forms.  11. Words
for can’t wait.  12 Across: to meet you later.  13. Under:
the second bridge.  14. Run: Your hand up the middle
of my sternum; turn the key behind the heart.

 —Published in The New Guard



The Sour Cherry Jam You Gave Me

I thought of you this morning
this February morning

this toast and Tuesday morning
with snow

this firstlight and jam
and coffee and cream morning

this small container of
what cannot be contained

and I whispered twenty O’s
at the same time

O sweet, irrational worship
Merton wrote once, in a journal


The We of Two Horses

Even one and one’s loneliness,
the we of our cats or the we of

two horses in the autumn field,
side to side, head to rump,

their muscular together. It’s better
with a we, my mother said to me

when I first met you, and I said
again to you last Saturday morning

as we watched the two geldings
eating apples at the farm.

And later, out of all the warblers
east of the Mississippi, two had

decided to take a bath together
under the abandoned fire hydrant.

They couldn’t stop talking, it seemed,
they had much to say. Today,

I like we in my friend’s poem. We
walked the prairie, she and I, we

banded butterflies. Sometimes
things happen to the we of our us

and it’s a good word to say again,
a word that wants to hold hands,

September, prairie just past yellow,
ready to flame into that color for which we have no name.

—Second-place 2014 Wisconsin People and Ideas Poetry Contest Winner


Sample poems and art from Dove Tail