American Portrait 16

by Ken Harnisch

Deirdre Allen Forrester

Pushes her hair up

And smiles in the bathroom mirror

Acknowledging she looks good

At last, just as the voice from downstairs

Rattles the quiet of the house

With its raucous fog horn bellow.

“Dee!” It calls. “Deeeeeeeeeee!”


She comes downstairs slowly,

Careful not to topple the case of Bud her

Brother-in-law has brought to the festivities

And placed haphazardly on the risers

Ronnie comes from the kitchen wearing

That yellow foam cheese wedge

On his head, his cheekbones darkened with

Eye black, the old Bart Starr shirt faded now

From years and years of washing

And just barely recognizable


“So how do I look, babe?” Ronnie says

“Ready, huh? Ready, wouldn’t ya say?”

And then Stanley comes out of the kitchen

With his gold, black and white Jerome Bettis

Jersey and the Magic Marker legend scrawled

Across his chest reading, “THE BUS STOPS HERE!”

Deirdre smiles tightly and says, “You both look smashing.”

And then she looks at Stanley and the clock;

The half empty bottle of Bud in his hand;

And says, “starting early this year, Stan?”


“Wah, wah?” Stanley says, “One day a year

And she’s complainin’ Ron?” The two men

Laugh, exactly the same, the way brothers

Sometimes do, and Stan goes in the kitchen

And comes back with a second bottle of Bud.

Stuffing it in Ronnie’s hand, he says, “See,

You ain’t an alcoholic, if you drink with a buddy.”

And the two men laugh exactly the same



“When’s the game?” Deirdre asks, knowing

Already this is preliminary, that’s it’s 11 AM,

That the pre-game doesn’t start till 2, that the kick-off

Isn’t until 6:24. In the days when she stayed

At home she had this down pat and often

Ran herself ragged making hor d’ouerves

For the men who seemed to have a knack

For feeding the rug more than their mouths 

Now she buys frozen stuff from BJ’s

And runs Ronnie through the paces

Of the oven and the microwave

And prays only that the wreckage

Will be manageable when she comes home.


“So, where you going this year, babe?” Ron asks

As she hefts her coat up over her shoulders

“The girls and I are going to a movie, and dinner later,”

She says. “I should be home by eleven.”

And Stan says, “Which movie? Not that Brokedown Mountain

Or whatchamacallit, I hope.” And she smiles and says “Maybe, Stan;

You never know.” And Stan hoots,

Grabbing his brother around the neck, saying,

“Now there’s two guys know how to hand off, right Ronnie?”

And Ronnie guffaws, coming back with, “Block and tackle, bro,

Block and Tackle!” And then Ronnie lunges at his

Brother and pushes him up against the kitchen sink

Spilling Bud and knocking the cheese wedge

Off his own head and as they grapple

On the tiled floor, laughing exactly the same,

Deirdre goes to the door and says, “Play nice boys.”

And “Ronnie don’t make a mess,” before

She goes out into the cold.


Later in a room

Standing before the full-length mirror

In just a slip, her lover’s arms draped

Loose around her waist, Deirdre leans back

And kisses his cheek. “How is it,” she says,

“I find the only guy in the world who doesn’t like football?”

And Simon smiles and says, “I like football plenty, just

Not the Super Bowl. It’s just Roman bread and circuses to me.”

And when she smiles, somewhat dubiously,

He says, “You don’t believe me?”

And lets his hand

Rise slowly to the side of her breast

“See,” he says. “That I call a forward pass”

And she moans softly as she arches into his fingers,

Whispering, “And what do you call a touchdown?”



Author's Note: For Super Bowl widows everywhere..and after hearing Johnny Taylor's 1968 classic, "Who's Making Love To Your Old Lady(While You Were Out Making Love)"

Posted on 02/04/2006
Copyright © 2023 Ken Harnisch

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 02/04/06 at 09:13 PM

please let me know what happens when the bases are loaded! :) :) :) Brilliant, as always!

Posted by Kate Demeree on 03/23/06 at 02:14 PM

As soon as I turn the fan on, and open the window I may be able to leave a coherent comment! OMG this sizzles ... how irony does play a part in life... You Just Keep Getting Better Ken! One day when you are published I will be able to say... "I knew him when..." Great to see yet another edition of AP~!

Posted by Paganini Jones on 11/18/06 at 09:04 PM

You paint a great picture and spin a good yarn as always.

Posted by Carolyn Coville on 04/19/07 at 03:16 PM

devious! yet enjoyable as ever :)

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