Jan Ball

Jan Ball

Jan Ball has had 319 poems published in various journals including: Atlanta Review, Calyx, Chiron, Mid-America Review, Nimrod and Parnassus, in Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, England, India and The U.S.. Jan’s three chapbooks and full length poetry collection, I Wanted To Dance With My Father, are available from Finishing Line Press and Amazon. Her poem “Not Sharing at Yoshu” was just nominated by Orbis, Great Britain, 2020, for a Pushcart award. When not traveling, Jan and her husband like to cook for friends.

Dorade Entire

Violette debones the fish
in this alfresco bistro snug
in a Medieval hilltop town
in the South of France,
doesn’t guillotine the head
with a sudden chop but slices
it as smoothly as a barber
shaves a beard with a straight

She dexterously trims
the dorsal fins and tail
off the dorade then cuts
the body in half the long
way to expose the delicate
white bones and lifts them
off the fishmeat all in one
piece like taking a silver
and turquoise Santa Fe
necklace out of a jewelry

Violette discards the bones
on the side dish that already
holds the head with its glassy
eye and feathery fins
then poises her utensils
at the side of her plate ready
for her first bite.

French Sunday Market Only

Sunday market, everything your heart
as my mom would say: Van
Gogh’s golden light shining on Cezanne’s
rosy peches in a bowl, purple figs, tiny
red strawberries of the forest.

One vendor offers slices of Cavillon
melon, another a chunk of Andoulle
sausage. There are robust robuchon
and Saint Marcellin cheeses that are
soft enough to feed to a baby with
a spoon but smell like dirty socks
as well as unpronounceable brillat
savarin, chevre, and brie. A man stirs
paella in a huge flat pan, so we inhale
shrimp with their heads on flavored
with exotic yellow saffron and mussels
as fragrant as Madame Rochas.

Surprisingly padded bras patterned
in wild flowers, and lacey panties
seem flung across counters as randomly
as pick-up-sticks while frilly blouses
and skirts with contemporary ragged
hems hang on make-shift metal racks
like a Devil Wears Prada wardrobe.

Finally, the Sunday Market over
for us, we circumvent curly white
dogs on long leashes who lift their
legs to excrete a yellow stream
indiscriminately on the tires of baby
strollers, turn left to where the car
is parked cherishing the purchases
we’ve arranged in our yellow backpack
and market basket then see the pharmacie
where Deux condoms are available
in a metal dispenser every day.

Normal Cycle

After the two hour and fifteen
minute normal wash cycle, we
smooth the crushable items: shirts,
shorts, skirts and take armfuls
of smaller socks, undies and tea
towels out to the balcony so we
can dry them in the pine-fragrant
South of France air.

Since he’s taller than me, Jeremy
arranges our two red bath towels
over the trellis behind the pink
oleander bush so they can aspirate
in the breezes on both sides as I
assemble the drying rack, careful
to secure the control mechanism
so the whole contraption doesn’t

I brush against the basil plant
releasing its green aroma, press
clothespins with my index finger
and thumb the way my mother
must have done in the musty rat-
infested basement of our childhood
apartment building, and tug at shirt
collars and skirt hems so I won’t
have to iron them.

The lavender plant shrieks purple
when I squint down at it and the red
geraniums sing in their window boxes
as the Mediterranean Sea ebbs and
flows blue on this ordinary day.

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Poetry in this post: © Jan Ball
Published with the permission of Jan Ball