local_library Secrets: Can You Promise Not to Tell?

by Joy Ueno

Published in Issue No. 253 ~ June, 2018

“let me whisper in your

ear” the painter sings

off-key which is funny

I am five

my sister is four

he is in his late twenties and paints

the frame

of our neighbor’s door

black also covers

his pants

that’s funny too

on the patio

mom thumbs the hose

to sprinkle food into

the green onions

which spring forth

into the world

like we two


the glen: tire swing

sweets doll-play

those secrets!

his secret: a conch shell

whispering or a spell to


a weedy dandelion

into a full red rose?


there he doesn’t

ask us to lift

shirts or show


pose for a photo or

cheek-kiss only

to touch it there and

he insists in

great big letters


“in the glen mom”

I’m a rat, but he’s

taken off

dropped the brush with

its ugly black hairs

this upside-down

afternoon mom

still watering the

plants has a secret

too the conch shell

whispering not trumpeting

murmuring not thundering

not charging into battle

only humming a flat note:

“don’t tell dad

when he gets

home go wash

your hands” she says

though she scrubs and scrubs

and scrubs and scrubs

the fingers individually

the nails the backs

of the hands the palms

our mom may be

scared he will

erupt or the police

won’t do a thing or

maybe it never


to her either

account_box More About

Joy Ueno has grown up in southern California, where she currently resides. In her spare time, she enjoys watching roller derby, reading literature of all shapes and sizes, and trying out recipes on her friends and family.