Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 9
Spring 2014

[Three Poems]

by Helene Simkin Jara


Kneeling down to pet the cat
next to the garbage can,
she felt its bones,
its orange fur dull and matted,
eyes looking nowhere.

Walking home,
she thought, he must be starving,
dying even.
Her pockets were empty of
even small change.

I can’t help him.

She opened
the front door
Her husband might be sleeping.

Who was she kidding?

More than likely,
he was drunk,
lying there on the couch
next to his cancer meds,
the remote
grasped in his bony fingers,
His grumbling
silenced for now.

She picked up the Jim Beam
and downed it.

—From Because I Had To (CreateSpace, February 2013);
reprinted here by author’s permission



Alone in her bedroom
she memorizes
the size and shape of Ricky Nelson
and Fabian’s lips
on the pages she tore out of
the teen magazine
and Scotch-taped to her wall.
She practices
giving Ricky
a come hither look. Then
she tries it on Fabian.
It works better on Fabian.
Inching closer 
to the picture of Fabian, she purses
her 11 year old lips
and gently brushes them
against his.
Ricky will have to wait
until tomorrow night.
She doesn’t want to be a two-timer.

—From Because I Had To (CreateSpace, February 2013); reprinted here by author’s permission


19 Surprising Things Men Have Said to Me

I have electric knees.
If it ain’t jam, it’s jelly.
Don’t you ever wear that top again.
You know you want to.
Get your nose done and come back.
Your kids don’t look Mexican, they look Jewish.
I’m strong like bull.
I can’t bring over that picture of my brother; it’s too heavy.
My left testicle never descended.
I make women scream.
Just pretend you’re squashing it with your bare feet.
I never thought of you as a girl. 
You might be pregnant; I might have done it in my sleep.
I can’t sleep with you; I have to put in a sprinkler system in the morning.
Thanks to you, miss, I get 20 years in jail.
My psychiatrist said you’d be good for me.
You remind me of a giraffe on amphetamines.
What are you going to do about it?
Thank you.

—From Because I Had To (CreateSpace, February 2013); reprinted here by author’s permission

—Previously published in Porter Gulch Review 2008


SHJ Issue 9
Spring 2014

Helene Simkin Jara

is an actor, director, and writer. Her work has been published in The Porter Gulch Review, La Revista, Mindprints, Phren-Z, and Nerve Cowboy. She won “Best Prose” in 2003 for “Josefina,” in 2009 for “FUBMC,” and in 2011 for “Vat Means Rad?” in The Porter Gulch Review. She was twice a finalist for Glimmertrain and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2007 for “The Difference.”

Ms. Jara recently published a collection of short stories, poems, plays, and monologues in a book entitled Because I Had To (CreateSpace, February 2013), which is available at

“...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