Three Poems

Jill Talbot

Dreaming of Frank Sinatra


He has made a comeback in my bed

like the last act of a lounge set,

perhaps a lover from a past life,  reminding me

we once had it all, or nothing at all,

his black tuxedo, loose tie, the top button

undone by the spotlight.  The end of a night

in a room after everyone else

has put out the last cigarette, rings of scotch

and water seeping from the bottom

of abandoned glasses on end tables

or the bench of the piano, where Frank

once propped a polished shoe and leaned into the swing

of “I’ll be seeing you,” no hat, shirt collar spreading

across cashmere like a dinner napkin.   An after hour

Sinatra, singing in my sleep, drinking in my dreams.





My lovers leave when the leaves begin to fall,

and I drink red instead of white.  Cabernet thickness, swallowing

soft black sweater.   The lamp in the corner left on,

my reflection in the front window a portrait.


The house quiet once again,

I shed like the trees outside my kitchen window,

a weight once on me like wet clothes

falls away, piece by piece, and I begin to find

silver bracelets in bathroom drawers, notice

the lighter ends of my eyelashes, the way

I touch myself more, palms against breasts,

give of my hips while I wait

in the express line, not caring

if anyone notices. 


My solitude more than freedom,

something I own, and the space carved away

by absence becomes a comfort, the way sheets

pulled back at night look

when you’re climbing in next to no one.


So I buy caramels instead of coffee,

sit on the kitchen floor and unwrap,

one by one.   Go to bed before nine.

Underline words I don’t know

in novels, make a list to learn

by the end of each week until I can speak

a new language. 



When I Stop Dreaming of Frank Sinatra


I am worn down by the way

I can’t bring back a life

by writing it, words on a page

little more than reminders

I had those dreams

of Frank, white lounge,

hotel suite.  Lampshade,

the pink lips of girls teetering,

and the coarse men sweating

evening scotch, smoke

like a brush of dusk clouds.

Against glass, ice clinks,

his hands, not one night quiet.  

But he has stopped

draping his tuxedo jacket

over the back of my chair

in the corner, and I search my sleep,

open doors off dark hallways

to empty rooms,

stay up late, red wine, wait,

flip channels for the black

and whites of navy uniforms, 

the man with the golden arm,

his songs through stereo, signature

edge of an album. I am calling Sinatra

with his own words, the voice he left behind.

About The Writer

Jill Talbot is author of the memoir, Loaded, as well as co-editor of The Art of Friction: Where (Non) Fictions Come Together and editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, DIAGRAM, The Paris Review Daily and The Rumpus. She is the 2013–2015 Elma Stuckey Writer-in-Residence in Creative Nonfiction at Columbia College Chicago.