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First Love
Jeanie Greensfelder

My first boyfriend was my second choice:
Beth got Gerry Jenson so I got Billy James
whose jaw hung, his tongue showing.
I looked down on Billy: girls were taller
in seventh grade. I wore his ID bracelet
and a motorcycle cap with his initials.
When we hugged, he smelled like Ivory soap,
his cheek smooth and soft—a Norman Rockwell boy.
Walking me home from school he carried my books,
and looked forward to a kiss at my door.
I knew he was trustworthy and true,
reliably mine, but Billy didn’t know me:
I’d met a tall guy who drove a Ford.
His cheeks were sandpaper rough
and he French kissed.
And on this day on my front porch,
when Billy handed me my books,
I handed him his ID bracelet
and watched his face redden, his eyes tear,
hurt bursting his seams. We both cried
soap-opera style, and Billy ran home.
In my room, I draped myself over my bed,
like an actress far away from home,
pained and in love with drama.

© by Jeanie Greensfelder.
Used with the author’s permission.


Jeanie Greensfelder is the author of Biting the Apple (Penciled In, 2012) and Marriage and Other Leaps of Faith (Penciled In, 2015. Her poems have been featured on Writers’ Almanac and American Life in Poetry. A psychologist, Jeanie seeks to understand herself and others on this shared journey filled, as Joseph Campbell said, with sorrowful joys and joyful sorrows. Jeanie lives with her husband Andy in San Luis Obispo, California, where she volunteers as a bereavement counselor and where she has just been named as Poet Laureate for San Luis Obispo County for 2017 and 2018. Read more of her poems at





Post New Comment:
Jeanie brings clear vision, wisdom, and to-the-core imagery that mesmerizes. She's one of my favorite poets. Jane Elsdon
Posted 02/14/2014 02:03 PM
Mary Lou Taylor:
Inspires me to write my own first break-up. Never to be forgotten. Poor Billy.
Posted 02/04/2014 05:21 PM
Like Sherry, all I can say is yes, well done.
Posted 02/04/2014 10:47 AM
Ross Kightly:
How perfect is that image: 'hurt bursting his seams'! And if the perspective is true, it is also a fact that distance in time doesn't necessarily lessen the memory of pain. This has taken me perhaps a little too far back into...
Posted 02/04/2014 09:39 AM
yes, well done.
Posted 02/04/2014 08:30 AM
The attention to detail is what makes this poem special. I especially love the histrionics of the breakup, filtered through the unsparing eye of age.
Posted 02/04/2014 08:27 AM
A blast from the past we can all relate to. Well done!
Posted 02/04/2014 08:00 AM
o that first love--intense beyond belief! good poem...
Posted 02/04/2014 07:15 AM

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