“Grandma Zolie Gives Unheeded Advice” by Lauren Marie Schmidt

Lauren Marie Schmidt


If ever your husband comes home drunk, don’t
beat him while he sleeps; you’ll just end up confessing to it.

If ever you drive your car up on the curb, don’t
keep it a secret; your son will find out when he sees
the tires wobbling and will be sore when he learns
it’s actually the second time.

If ever you want to teach your grandchildren not to smoke, don’t
flash them your pneumonectomy scars or wag the rubber-insert
breast in their face. It will scare the bejeezus out of them.

(If ever you want to make them laugh, though,
spit your dentures in the meatloaf.)

If ever you can’t finish your dinner, don’t save the leftovers.
They’ll just lodge in your freezer for six months until

you can stand to throw them away. But don’t throw things away.
Fix them, mend, reuse them, clean them, and that goes for you too.
You don’t want to be the smelly grandmother, for Heaven’s sake.

If ever your grandson tells a joke with the word queef in it,
don’t repeat, for clarification, Pussy fart? when he answers you.

Which brings me to swearing. If ever you need to swear, don’t
take the Lord’s name, say shugamaloot instead, or,
if you have to swear, say shit-fuck-goddammit like a lady,

because when a nurse instructs your stroke-stricken husband
to shit in his bed, you’ll want to have something to say.

If ever you’re mad at the family who is mad at you
for christening the neighbor’s baby in the bathroom, don’t
threaten to stop taking your meds: it only works the first time.

If ever you’re about to die, don’t ask the Lord for more time,
because the Lord is good and He just might give it to you.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009


Lauren Marie Schmidt: “Every summer of my youth was spent in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, or, if you are from the Garden or Empire State, ‘the Jersey Shore.’ After spending the day at the beach, my parents would take my brothers and me to the boardwalk which was filled with games, arcades, and rides. When we grew to be too old for these things, my father taught us ‘the dollar trick’ where one of us would go under the boardwalk with a buck, slip it through the cracks and yank it away as someone reached for it. Some people would laugh at themselves and even become part of the crowd that gathered to watch others fall for the gag. Some people would stomp off all embarrassed or yell through the cracks demanding to know who was behind the treachery. And had it not been for my father who stopped him, one guy would have chased my brother down the beach. I come from a long line of observers, people-watchers, and I believe my summers at the Jersey Shore were the earliest lessons I had in what has become the basis for my poetry.” (web)

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