Laurie Kolp

Relating To a Newcomer

I thought twiddling thumbs was meant for kids
but here you sit next to me
           your hands clenched
           & thumbs a whirlybird.
Working hard, the sweat at your brow, the frown on your face
whisky-puffed through pores which emanate a pre-meeting swig
or three or six failed attempts
to mask your breath
with peppermint Altoids.

I tell you to listen for the similarities
as the speaker drones on about the topic
            — who are you really?
much too long.
                      A twenty-something jumps in,
talks about dancing sober
           (a thumbs-up revelation: yes, it can be done)
goes on to share about the previous night
when her MUther asked her to tango
during ballroom dancing lessons,
           (what progress, the two of them in a class together)
she said no. She didn’t want to step on the old lady’s toes.

I think of mine. Under Mother’s thumb to her dying day,
putty in my mind as she pulled me down
again & again & again,
childhood resentments lingering
           like your thumbs midair
but what I wouldn’t give for one more dance.


Laurie Kolp, author of Upon the Blue Couch (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014), serves as president of Texas Gulf Coast Writers and gathers monthly with other local members of the Poetry Society of Texas. Laurie’s poems have appeared in more than four dozen print and online journals, including the 2015 Poet’s Market and Diane Lockward’s The Crafty Poet. Recent and upcoming publications include Scissors & Spackle, Blue Fifth Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Iodine Poetry Journal, North Dakota Quarterly, Turtle Island Quarterly, Hermes Lit Journal and Absinthe Poetry Review. Her website is


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