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How Burma Shave Saved the Day
Nancy Scott

Sunday afternoon, road out of Sycamore.
 “A short-cut,” Dad says, just miles of blacktop
dissecting cornfields, saucer-eyed cows giving us
the once-over. Rickey and I locked in the back seat
for hours, straight from a boring visit with
Uncle Seymour who sells cheap print dresses
and smells of cigars. Our fingers draw pouty mouths,
flying ringlets, tic-tac-toe grids on the frosty windows.
 “Stop that.” Mom whips her arm from the front seat
and misses. Rickey grabs his throat. “I’m gonna
throw up if we don’t stop soon.” Then we spot them,
the signs at the side of the road:
Cattle Crossing / Means Go Slow / That Old Bull /
Is Some Cow’s Beau / Burma Shave
Suddenly we’re on an adventure, one set of signs means
another ahead. Sure enough, but in the opposite direction.
We crane our necks.
Burma Shave / I’ll Cook The Rice / The Wedding’s Off /
And Said, No Dice / She Eyed His Beard      
We can’t be stopped. Pat’s Bristles–bouncing-Scratched
-faster and faster-Bridget’s Nose-giggling–That’s When
–ducking–Her Wild Irish Rose–until Burma Shave hours

become whispers and it’s dark when we get home.   

This poem first appeared in U.S.1 Worksheets, 2003.
Used here with the author's permission.

Nancy Scott began writing poetry in the mid-1990s, chronicling decades of social activism on behalf of abused children and homeless families, but she now writes about a wide range of subjects. Nancy is the author of three books of poetry and is managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, the journal of the U.S.1 Poet's Cooperative in New Jersey. A great fan of children, Nancy raised one biological son and three adopted bi-racial chldren and was foster mom to more than twenty others. Years ago, when she had the stamina, she ran a daycare center. Now she often writes about her grandchildren. Learn more about her at


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Posted 09/19/2010 07:46 AM

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