“Ice” by Charles Harper Webb

Charles Harper Webb


was Granny Clark’s cure for all ills.
Ice for a banged forehead or skinned knee.
Ice for headache, sniffles, fever. Ice
for chills. For bruised feelings, a drink

from the icebox, as she still called it.
In the old days, she explained,
people chopped ice from lakes in winter,
and stored it in ice-houses underground.

Twice a week, the ice-man brought—
swinging from tongs—a sweating
block, and plopped it in the box.
She’d hoped to be an ice-girl, then.

Now—kids grown, husband fled to a bank-
teller with frosted hair—she rocks
on her porch, and sips iced tea, and thinks
how Eskimos would feed

an old, sick Grandma special herbs.
“Thank you for spending time
with us. Return in a nice new body soon,”
they’d croon, entrusting her to ice.

from Rattle #52, Summer 2016
Tribute to Angelenos


Charles Harper Webb: “I consider myself an L.A. poet for the very prosaic reason that I’ve lived in and around L.A. for more than half of my life. As a long-time professor of English and creative writing at Cal State Long Beach, I’ve helped to turn a number of fine poets loose on the world, and am pleased to take part myself in the local literary scene. As the editor of Stand Up Poetry: An Expanded Anthology, and two earlier Stand Up anthologies, I helped to define and call attention to an entertaining, reader-friendly style of poetry that grew up in L.A., and still flourishes here. I’ve lived in L.A. for so long that my poems are full of it (L.A.—not, I hope, that other ‘it’). But even more than L.A. imagery, many of my poems have, I think, an L.A. sensibility: casual, performable, leavened with humor. As critic Wilhelm Blogun quipped at a party, ‘As poets go, you’re a Schopenhauer in duck’s clothing.’ How L.A. can you get?”

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