Only the Good Die Young

They say the good die young
I guess that must be true
My heart keeps on beating
Though I don’t want it to
Sweet friends they went too early
The teacher and the vet
I dine on desperation
Why cannot I go next?
A bridge so high, so far to fall
Paul’s death a certainty
One step was all it took for him
To find eternity
I don’t know why God holds me here
The reason’s kept from me
My heart continues beating
My soul begs to be free
My mother left me twice
It’s more than I can bear
My siblings joined her cause this time
And turned around their chairs
Bartleby you got it right
To die is just to sleep
Lie me down and let me go
My bed the harsh concrete
A gun’s too loud
Pills too unsure
Perhaps I’ll use the car
Overpass or traffic light
Which one shall I prefer?
Don’t call me coward, that’s not fair
You don’t know pain like this
You cannot know what it feels like
To wear a granite vest
Who would even notice?
With time, each mem’ry fades
The living go on living
The dead they just decay
What would I do if I were you
And you beseeching me
Would I call for help
to come at once
Or leave and let you be?

The Peril of the Purloined Panini

paniniAs we toil away in Corporate America, who amongst us has not suffered the loss of food from the communal refrigerator?  It’s a problem as old as the water cooler itself.  Plenty of Facebook posts and Youtube videos illustrate ways to get back at these inconsiderate jerks who seem to think they are at home where everything in the fridge is fair game.   I personally like the spitting technique or the hot sauce revenge.  I’ve been lucky, however; no one wants my leftovers.  (I don’t know why not considering my husband is a retired chef).  But I better not tempt fate.


A few months ago, a woman in our office became a victim of a refrigerator marauder.  I penned this ditty in her honor.

She was late for work
So she grabbed the first thing
From the freezer she saw
A new Lean Cuisine.

A panini she brought
And her tastebuds did soar
At the thought of the treat
She now had in store.

Ensconced in the freezer
The morning flew past
When lunchtime arrived
She could eat it at last.

But the sandwich was gone!
How could this be?
Alas, said Betty
From me, they took three.

Who would do such a thing
In an office so small?
Such a dastardly deed
So shameless, what gall!

With the box, Sheldon said
We could dust it for prints
But the crook was too smart
And left not a hint.
If we ever find out
The name of the thief
We’ll show him no mercy
No end to his grief
Remember revenge
Is always best cold
He’ll wish he had eaten
His own yogurt with mold.

© 2015 Renata Manzo

Self Portrait, version 2, part 1

lakemBear with me folks, I’m taking a poetry workshop and so I will be torturing you with my tortured prosody for a while.


I am an open
Telling my story
Is Telling
And soothing.

My father burned
With a Mediterranean fever.
My mother hid inside
A cowl made of Canadian ice.
His heat melted her ice
And I was born.

He reigned over us all,
Including my mother,
With military precision.
His way was the only
Mercy was not his to
Give. Or so he said.

He force fed us
Opera on
Saturday afternoons.
The intercom with its
Tyranical radio
Blared throughout
The cellblock.
We were not allowed to
Turn the volume down.
Such was my childhood.

My mother escaped when
I was 11.
She did not take
Any of us with her.
She left us with the
Madman instead.

When I left for college
I never came back.
But she did.
His charm was like
A neodymium magnet.
Her iron filings,
Skinny and weak,
Had no choice but to
Line up against his force field.

When I was
I got on the school bus
With my older brothers.
I was ready to learn how to read.
The driver brought me
Home, amused
But I was heartbroken.
So my mother taught me instead.

I still have my class picture
From kindergarten.
My face is framed with straight
brown hair
And bangs my mother cut
With scotch tape.
I’m smiling up to my eyes.
My hands, covered
with dimpled white gloves,
Are splayed
With excitement.

I inherited my legacy
When I was
Sitting in the high school
Cafeteria, I looked at my sandwich
But could not eat.
I did not know why.

I first went to college
On the edge of Harlem
Everything there
Was gray—
The buildings, sidewalks, streets, sky
And the people.
And cold,
So, so cold.
I fled two weeks into
Second semester.

I went south instead
South to warmth
And smooth brick
Walkways that surrounded
A garden with no flowers.
But at least it was green.
Green, the color of trees and grass
And verdant reflections on
Lake Matoaka.

Is this
A self portrait?
What are we if not

Our personal histories?

Who I am now
is the sum total of all I was
then, and over time
Who I have become.

Who I am now
is what you
See now.

I am an open