by Hal Sirowitz

My favorite song was “The Elusive Butterfly
of Love.”  It struck a chord.  With a home-made
net—a clothes hanger bent in a circle
with one end covered in see-through cotton—
in one hand and a bottle containing
the fumes of nail polish in the other,
I followed butterflies.  The idea was
not to snatch them out of the air,
which was very hard to do, but
to follow them until they rested
on a flower, then trap them with the net.  
Those butterflies would panic, make dives,
if you missed them on the first try.  Basically,
you had only one chance.  The same principles
applied to love.  I was trying to snatch
a girlfriend on my first attempt.  It didn’t work.

by Hal Sirowitz

One of my favorite songs was “One, two,
three, four, tell the people what she wore.
An itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot
bikini that she wore for the first time today.”
The song was a turn-on sexually, but a mess
grammatically.  Even though I wasn’t good
at grammar, I knew there was too much
repetition of the word “Wore.”  I searched
the house, hoping to find anything
with polka-dots to help me visualize
the song, but all I could find was
a polka-dot dish rag that had seen
better days.  I knew about the itsy bitsy
spider who went up the water spout,
but a spider does nothing for me.  But
to make the words “Itsy bitsy” sexual
was a stroke of genius.  I kept going
to the beach hoping to spot a woman
in a bikini, but had no such luck.
The song hadn’t become popular yet.

by Hal Sirowitz

She said love is strange.
I said Buddy Holly already
said that in a song.  She said
she was trying to increase
the level of communication
in the bedroom, since I wasn’t
contributing to it.  She said
as far as she was concerned,
our relationship was over.  
All I could think of was
Roy Orbison said that better.
There was a hint of sadness
in his voice.  I could only
detect malice in hers.


Hal Sirowitz won the 2013 Nebraska Book Award for Poetry
for his latest book,
Stray Cat Blues.  It was published by The
Backwaters Press in 2012.

On “Thankless Job,” “Itsy Bitsy,” and “Strange”:
I grew up in the era of that music.  The bands a person
listened to gave you an inner look into the listener’s
personality.  I’d be hesitant dating a woman who had bad
musical tastes.  The songs were like poetry waiting to
happen.  These poems are attempts to give those songs

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 10, Number 1
(Spring 2015)

Copyright © 2015
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

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published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.