Tobi Alfier – 2 poems

Two Dollars a Day


When Frankie was a kid, anytime

he got lower than a “D” on his math

homework or tests, he got the strap—

if not from the principal, then

from his father. They had nightly calls,

the principal and his father. Frankie

would be on the back porch, wishing

the early evening clouds would

waver him away. His father

would be in the old brown recliner,

glass in one hand, phone in the other.

Mama would be in the kitchen pretending

to ignore everything, a sad sigh caught

in her throat for Frankie, her curly-haired

baby boy, who could argue the world

with Atlas but couldn’t make change.

Truth be told, his father couldn’t count

more than a four finger pour anyway,

but he did what he thought he was supposed

to do. Frankie left home as soon as he could.


No matter what, Frankie hid two dollars a day

for special secrets. The long summer gone, air

cooling into ice through his ancient jacket that wasn’t

a jacket, rain drizzling straight down or sideways,

it didn’t matter. Two dollars plus the cost of a cup

of coffee in his pocket—each morning

Frankie stopped at the Church of All Saints,

spent a dollar, lit a candle. For mama.

For his father. For his strap-numbed hands

and for all the people and places far from his small

life—anything that needed to be blessed.


And a dollar tip for Dinah at the café.

No matter that coffee was only 55 cents,

Dinah had a son who needed doctors.

She wouldn’t take charity but she would

take tips. Frankie had money for rent,

sometimes he just ate corn and beans,

but every day—a dollar for church, a dollar

for Dinah. Nightfall sinks through tenement

windows but not through Frankie’s heart,

his mama’s sigh blown the way of a gentle breeze.





Immense Responsibility


They hug somewhat reluctantly


two magnets trying to touch

along their polar opposites

they share a child

they do not share anything else



She does not sleep well

he does not care

that has not changed


She gets his mail

the dentist leaves messages

confirming his appointments

on her phone that has

not changed


She bathes the son

cuts his hair

takes him to the doctor

goes to parent teacher conferences

alone that has not changed


And when he travels he does

not tell her, does not tell her

he will not be taking the son

so he can make the pizza

he can make the lunches

so she

can take a quick breath

that has not changed


She detects the scent of distraction

and maybe another woman

where once she used to smell

cigars she does not feel defrauded,

only a slight nudge that he is childless,

no responsibilities while she carries

the formidable weight of turning the son

into a fine man virtually alone.


That has not changed.





Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. Her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” was published by Kelsay Books. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was recently published by Cholla Needles Press. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (

By Heavenly Flower Publishing

Bindweed Magazine publishes two anthologies each year: Midsummer Madness and Winter Wonderland. Bindweed is run as a not for profit, labour of love endeavour by an author/poet couple: Leilanie Stewart and Joseph Robert. Bindweed can be found at

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