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Jeanie Greensfelder


We’re driving to meet friends,
and you say, When I’m in San Diego,
I’ll call my old girlfriend.
And I say,

What old girlfriend?!

After forty years you spill: The summer of
my junior year, I dated a beautiful girl,

(you sigh as you say her name) Sentra Sanders.
But she had this boyfriend in Boulder.
When she went to see him,
I took her to the train, gave her a poem
to read later, and kissed her goodbye.

You gave her a poem! Forty years. I never
got a poem. What did it say?

I don’t recall, but it worked! Ruined her trip,
she was torn between him and me.

And then?

We kept dating, but never got any traction.

Traction?! What kind of traction?

There was that one time, years later.
We were at a wedding. She wanted
to come to my apartment. This was it.
Too much drinking, and we napped.
At 4 a.m. I took her home.
No traction.

You've etched each detail in your mind.
Any further attempts at traction?

I called her about thirty years ago.

While we were married?!

Well, I was in San Diego.

Alone and looking for traction?
If I’d known, you would have
slept on the couch for weeks.

That’s why I didn’t tell you. I learned
she was married and volunteered with vets.

No worries, sweetheart.
When you return to San Diego,
I will give you a poem to ruin your trip,
and leave you torn between two loves,
needing traction—
from multiple physical therapists.

From I Got What I Came For (Penciled In, 2017).
Used here with the author’s permission.

Jeanie Greensfelder is the author of three poetry collections and her work has 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 is currently serving as Poet Laureate for San Luis Obispo County. Learn more about her at




Post New Comment:
Love this!
Posted 02/10/2019 03:46 PM
Lori Levy:
Love the humor in this poem.
Posted 02/10/2019 02:44 PM
Ah yes...what a great poem to present at a reading, Jeanie. That last line is gold!
Posted 02/10/2019 12:57 PM
I love dialog poems.
Posted 02/10/2019 12:11 PM
Janet Leahy:
Ah, yes, traction . . . you make this poem work so well using that term to great advantage! And such a smart ending, brava for a great poem.
Posted 02/10/2019 11:58 AM
Great fun. A true adult love poem. Crafted well. The use of traction in that innovative way made me think of purchase as a noun: a hold or position on something for applying power advantageously, or the advantage gained by such application. "the horse's hooves fought for purchase on the slippery pavement"
Posted 02/10/2019 09:38 AM
Sarah Russell:
This is absolutely delightful. Hmmm. Traction... Love mulling that word with you.
Posted 02/10/2019 07:29 AM

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