Grandma and the Football Team

Grandma didn’t always

hang with a football team,

sometimes she played hockey or

ice-skated with Chinese waiters.

It was rumored she went

skating on a date

twenty years after her

husband died.


She was a tall, peculiar

bride to Louis

who strolled near

Orthodox Jews

who came to her house

to perform miracles.


Ida lived with Mrs. Grossman,

who wore makeup over skin cancer.

Ida worried if Julia, Mrs. Grossman,

stole her cottage cheese.


Grandma—pale, thin and hunch-backed at 80—

was no Leon Trotsky,

nor was she Michelangelo’s David;

and never wore pants.

In all her years,

“I will never wear pants,”

didn’t stick her hand

in the daughter’s closet, hoping

for polyester inspiration to

enter the 20th Century.


One weekend,

while her children went to England,

her children’s children, that is,

the burnout Jimmy Hendrix fans

who did acid and smoked pot,

drank a few beers and made

fun of the queers,

the incarnates of New Jersey,

sophisticated and aesthetic culture,

decided to have a party.


But they did not

invite Grandma,

they locked her with

a hook in the lock

Ida in her nighties

while the boys in the band

and the girls in the boys

went rollicking through the

kitchen where Ida,

twenty minutes before,

ate gefilte fish.


She took off her stockings,

letting the long toes rip,

when in came Lakewood, New Jersey’s finest

like a herd of erect penises

to celebrate with a woman whose heart valves

were rustier than old bicycles.


Bras snapped

the dog Shrimpy got high

goyisha weight lifters

made love to Brooklyn Zionists.


The skinny woman

with a full head of grey hair

and bumps on her head

in her flowered nightgown,

where you could see her

flabby breasts bouncing,

yelled, “Eleanor! What’s going on?

Eleanor—I have a heart condition!”


“We’re having a party Grandma,

would you like to join?”


“Vey’s mir!” she whined, screaming in Yiddish

to the Polish, Irish and German quarterbacks.

Smoking a joint, one went up to Ida,

“Would you like a hit?”



Ida’s grandson, in a veil of pot,

led her to bed,

where she snuggled under a

pink comforter

while the pot shone through

like a vapor against the window.

Eleanor Levine’s work has appeared in Fiction, The Denver Quarterly, Midway Journal, The Toronto Quarterly, The California State Quarterly, Prime Mincer, Happy, Penumbra, The Coachella Review, OVS Magazine,, Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry (nominated for a 2012 Lambda Literary Award), Downtown Poets (anthology), New York Sex (anthology), The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Blade and other publications. She has work forthcoming in The Evergreen Review and Gertrude. In 2007 she received an MFA in Creative Writing from Hollins University in Roanoke, VA. Eleanor is currently a copy editor and lives in Philadelphia.