The Incline of Life on The 6th Floor

Tucking Your Shirt
by Cheryl A. Rice

You turn to the window, 6th floor,
unbuckle, tuck, buckle your belt for dinner.
You’d rather show all Newark your belly than me.
The statue in the park across, Civil War hero,
patina moustache, bronze uniform,
has seen it all here, more than we will
in these sanitized blocks the mayor has created
for the good of the poets.

The window invisible door, one-way scenery,
the 6th floor is the 20th for all I care.
I undress myself in front of it, jeans to soft gym shorts,
elastic ease I need, middle too wide for my jean’s
hard waistband, blue oceans of pant legs
flap cotton surrender in October gusts.

Swapping shirts out before me like a teammate,
I’m the one who begs, the one who knows
the answers, doesn’t like the questions.
I imagined dark acrobatic corners of a life
you are no longer inclined towards.
I dreaded this weekend, at last proud,
definite about the high road I’d choose,
disappointed I had no choice to make.

I wish I could take each moment as is,
lights of the city insisting on their own silhouette,
but I am too much in love today.
I look for a plot where flash fiction’s the mode.
The haiku of your belt buckled away from me
should stand on its own, declaration of standoff,
white flag of truce louder than words.


Founder and host of the Sylvia Plath Bake-Off, Cheryl A. Rice has run her RANDOM WRITING workshops throughout the Hudson Valley. Rice has lived there for over 30 years, after growing up on Long Island. Her poetry blog, Flying Monkey Productions, is at


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I am a dreamer, as well as a doer, who lives in the North Georgia mountains. I started my publishing journey August of 2013, have had moderate success, but my utmost passion is my "daytime" job, which is working with adults who are constantly striving to better their lives as they obtain the GED credential.

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