Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 13
Fall 2015

[Two Poems]

by Jackleen Holton Hookway

“What’s the Capital of Australia?”

Dan asked the guy
who was really from Boston,
though he talked a good Melbourne.
I don’t remember his name, but
he had the hair of a cherub.
A photograph of his hangs
on our friends’ kitchen wall:
two large fish, sweet lips,
they’re called, perhaps taken
while diving along the Great
Barrier Reef. It was just
after 9/11. The familiar rumble
of planes over houses was something
we never thought we’d praise,
but these were the first after a week
of too-quiet sky. We were hanging
out at Jeff’s place in Point Loma 
and the guy, I’d just met him, was talking me up
in his adopted tongue, calling me Love,
and I was taking the bait.
But then Dan, knowing
that the newcomer wasn’t a real
Australian, posed his question,
and because the guy didn’t know
the answer, he clenched
his fists and glared
at Dan. The room fell silent. Overhead,
another 757 raged. He went outside to smoke
weed and calm down. That was the last
time I saw him. My friends
say he’s sounding like Massachusetts again,
after having spent several years back
home, though the old accent
surfaces sometimes when he talks
of the months spent in Sydney, recalls surfing
along the Gold Coast, or the time he fished
in Lake Burley Griffin, just up
the road from Canberra, the capital
city of Australia, and one
of the most unforgettable places
I’ve never been.



Hymn to the Feet

Imagine Jesus’ feet, washed, then dried with a woman’s long hair,
massaged with an oil that would have fetched a year’s salary.
Such a waste! the disciples protested. They didn’t understand
that worship is luxury. In the hot tub this morning, you got
me again, your foot rising from the steam to tickle my nose.
And, laughing, I lifted one of mine to your mouth. I love your feet,
you said, kissing it. A small shock. Could anyone love such knuckled
ugliness, these bony size ten-and-a-halfs? I remember
too clearly the taunts, how my long middle toe once reminded
some prepubescent asswipe of E.T.’s outstretched finger. Phone home,
phone home the refrain all that summer at the municipal pool.
Yet, you said that you loved them. Then you began to press your strong
thumbs into the arch. And when you finished, I greedily
prodded you with the other foot, which you took like an offering.


SHJ Issue 13
Fall 2015

Jackleen Holton Hookway’s

poems have appeared in journals including Bayou, Kestrel, Natural Bridge, North American Review, Permafrost, Rattle, and Sanskrit, and the anthology, The Giant Book of Poetry. In 2014, she won Bellingham Review’s 49th Parallel Poetry Award. She is a poet-teacher with California Poets in the Schools.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury