Guest Poet Paul Belz


Just once in a while.
They tastelike roller coaster
or the crunchy skin of bumper car
or the warm oil and salt of ferris wheel
whose light bulbs soften the night.
Somewhere Chubby Checker sings "Limbo Rock".
His voice rides the humid breeze
that bring french fries' scent.
There's chlorine, too - the scent of July.
Wow!  a crack as someone's big brother
does a belly smacker off the high board.
"The Restless Wind" is a golden oldie.
For lunch, guys get fries, hot dogs
drenched in yellow mustard, onions, relish
and lots of salt.And chocolate cokes,
a gourmet treat to an eleven year old tongue.
Don't forget coleslaw! Its mayonaise and vinegar
leak all over the fries at Sun Drug's lunch counter.
Boys spin on round stools, the way they ride
"Tilt - A- Whirl." Dizzines! Whoa!
They read of Superboy;s secret love 
for Lana Lang, his brushes with Green Kryptonite.
These students of literature know cole slaw
with your fries is very adult, and sloppy joes
are more sophisticated than hot dogs,
like cigs and black coffee in some guys' minds.
They eye the ash trays and empty cups.
"Teen Angel" dies again, and Pittsburgh lives
in french fries. Just once in a while.

May, 1998

Paul Belz's Questions:

This poem is a combination of images that I remember from my childhood. I associate all these sensations with the taste of french fries. I'm wondering if it works for the piece to jump from one setting to another. Is it too erratic and confusing? Also, I've changed the line lengths a little from the original. The lines are shorter there. Does it work for them to be the lengths they are?  In the original the pace is a little faster.

Thanks for all comments.

Correspond with Paul Belz at
with your ideas about this poem.

The Albany Poetry Workshop