‘Suppertime at Our House” by Frank Wagner

Frank Wagner is a former news director at KWHI in Brenham, Texas. Born in Corpus Christi, Frank earned degrees in English and Political Science from Southwest Texas/Texas State-San Marcos. He visited Lowell in 2007 to see the exhibition of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” scroll typescript and stays up-to-date with related activities in the city. We hope he visits again. Frank regularly posts his poems on his Facebook page, if readers want to see more. We look forward to recurring appearances of Frank’s work on this blog. William Carlos Williams wrote “It is difficult to get the news from poems, but men die miserably everyday for lack of what is found there.” Our friend Frank got the news at his family’s supper table and then made a living sharing the news with his listeners.—PM

Suppertime at Our House

by Frank Wagner

The whole block knew it was suppertime at our house.
It wasn’t the aroma from the pots and skillets
that wafted through the kitchen windows
and into the yards and streets
for every nose to detect.
It wasn’t the light on in the dining room
with a clear view for all to see
the big table to be set.
Not even the clock on every wall
or the long shade of the ash trees
let everyone know
it was time for us
to come in and eat.

My mother stood out on the front porch
and with lungs that would
do every opera diva proud
hollered every one of our names
with a fury and passion
that few have ever heard.
This was the end of our day,
at least in public.

Now it was time to sit
at that long table
under the chandelier-like lamp
and listen to my dad
talk about the ways of the world,
what was in the news,
the latest news from the lab
and on everyone in a family
we hardly ever saw and
how sick they all were.
Then we all had our turn to speak
about a day at school
and hoped no one would
say a thing about
how we got into trouble.
I was always quick to note
which big game was coming up
or what was showing at the Woodlawn,
while my sisters talked about
who was going steady with whom
or how hard the science project was going to be.
Then it was time for ice cream.