Spring 2008, Volume 4

Poetry by Jeff Epley

Ode To The Big Girl For Whom My Conceit
Nor Her Body Will Fit A Traditional Sonnet


God bless the chubby cherub—packed
in high-heels and white stockings,
teeming in a short skirt, the opening
of its slit on the verge of bursting,
separating at the turn and curve.

There is no way the twin quatrains
of a b b a will bind the widening gyres
of her breasts—for sure the center
will not hold her bustier together.

Nor the corset of an Elizabethan sonnet,
the a through f rhymes splitting at the c d
e f.  Not even the mighty force
and double-stitch of the couplet
can keep her sexy gut at bay.


So my ode must continue with its
flexibility of varying line lengths
and stanzas, the elasticity and spandex
for my big idea and her huge frame.

In the spirit of freedom, I must note
even the folds of her neck look fine
under her red curls in this dim light
and late hour.  In passing, I should
also mention the weight of her bottom

because as she parts the barroom floor
with the thunder and clap of her calves
and thighs, not only does she move me
but the three twigs in line
waiting for the ladies’ room.


She has such confidence! 
Strutting through the woods
of cocktail tables and pool-sticks,
where men are easily lured
by thin, stringy-haired dryads.

Do not be fickle, Rubenesque beauty;
seize my hand and follow me out
to the alley.   If not for sex,
then for this large turkey leg I am holding.

I know your love is good
for only one night.  I promise to avoid
forced sentiment and never again
mention a fourteen-line container,
plump with images.

The Shoplifter's Wife

loved him most when he arrived
with rib-eye steaks, potatoes, carrots,

and a small tub of coffee ice cream.
But today he brought home batteries,

light bulbs, and an electrical cord
he had wrapped around him like a belt.

And even though his five-finger discounts
were slipping, she stood by him,

mending the inside-pockets of his coat,
sending him back out for rainbow trout,

bell peppers, eggplant, and a large head of lettuce. 
She was the inspiration for his kleptomania—

the kernel of his heart, the desire and drive
behind the banana up his coat sleeve,

the string of sausage links hung from his neck,
and the pork chops smuggled in his crotch.

BIO:  Jeff Epley's poetry has appeared in The Louisiana Review, RipRap, and Pearl, among others, and has been anthologized in Incidental Buildings & Accidental Beauty: An Anthology of Orange County/Long Beach Poets. From 1997 to 2002, he edited the poetry journal Bender, which has been archived at SUNY Buffalo Special Collections and CSU Long Beach Special Collections. He teaches at Long Beach City College and lives in Long Beach, California with his wife, Marcelle, and his two dogs, Jackson and Roxy.