Gloria Parker

Fourth Grade

The highlight of the day came at 2:30  
when she’d read the next chapter 
of Winnie the Pooh or Charlotte’s Web.

She was petite, Miss Schmidt…not much 
taller than we were at nine…her last class 
before she retired and moved back to Hilo.

She showed slides of Hawaii…said they were 
once called the Sandwich Islands…peanut butter
and jelly, grilled cheese…cool jokes for the playground.

We tasted poi and guava, practiced the hula 
in grass skirts and coconut bras, rolled obsidian 
glass around in our hands.

50’s kids…imagining the unimaginable…
the H-bomb…set off in our chests as we 
cowered under desks and in our dreams.

Absurd as duck and cover was, at least we 
didn’t know it. Today’s fourth graders have 
nowhere to hide, and the worst of it is, they do.


What’s in a Name?

If yours is Gloria
you may be as old as I am.

Not many mothers dubbed 
their daughters that since the 40’s

so let me ask…do you know if yours 
was a paean to god in the highest

or given in the hope that a glamorous name
might add a little sparkle by association? 

Were there copies of Photoplay lying around…
Modern Screen or Movie World, perhaps?

Did she idolize Swanson or De Haven…
maybe Vanderbilt or Grahame?

Crucifixes over every bed? 
Six pointed stars, a menorah?

The photo of her in a black satin blouse
and a sultry smile is surely be a clue.

I was certainly no answered prayer…
a disappointment, I’m sure…

just another spacey kid with a thumb 
stuck in her mouth. 

So tell me, other Glorias, do you think 
it was simply the name she liked, 

or were you supposed to shine
in order to give her life meaning?



That’s what the vet called him. 
How’s Happy-Go-Lucky today?
Probably vet-speak for dopey dog

and he was a lark of a fellow…
every car trip was a frolic, 
every stroll, a smell fest.

All 135 pounds of him would drag me
from the car to the office door as if 
the vet was handing out cheeseburgers.

Other dogs had to be coerced, some even 
sedated. They trembled at their peoples’ knees
in the waiting room. Toy breeds were carried in
by owners who called them their babies.

Then came the diagnosis and the cancer center, 
car trips, too long and too frequent…first time 
he seemed to know where we were going. 
He didn’t pull me in, but he didn’t fight me either.

Eerie sounds mingled with funky odors. Rows 
of downcast faces, hands petting hooked-up pups
in cubicles, infusion bags. Bandages, wrapped
around the stumps of missing legs.

At the end, true to his nature, he lay acquiescent
on the table. I did what I had to: steadied a hand
on his flank… saved the tears for after.

© Gloria Parker

Gloria Parker is a retired primary school teacher. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Loch Raven Review, Slipstream, North Dakota QuarterlyGyroscope, Rattle, SlipstreamNimrod, Paterson Literary Review and elsewhere.

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