on the page magazine

issue no. 1, winter 2000–2001
outsiders & community


A Trio of Prose Poems

by Lorraine Mavis Lupo

Maria's New Job
Washing Cars
Tuna Helper

Maria's New Job

Short Vowel Sounds Long Vowel Sounds
a Hard a Late
e New e See
i Six i Nine
o Work o Go
u Nervous u You

Maria has a new job. She washes cars. She works every day from nine o'clock to six o'clock. On her way to work she sees her friend Felicia.

"Hello, Maria," says Felicia.

"Hello, Felicia," says Maria.

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to work." Maria is nervous about talking to her friend. She is worried she will be late to work. If she is late, she will be fired.

"Don't go to work," says Felicia. "You should skip it. Tina will meet me soon. We're going to the beach." Felicia does not have a job. Felicia's boyfriend is in jail.

Maria says, "No, Felicia. I have a job now."

Maria leaves her friend. She is glad she is going to work. Even though it is hard, she is glad to have a new job.

Comprehension Questions

1. What is Maria's new job?

2. Why is Maria afraid?

3. What are you afraid of?

Washing Cars

Short Vowel Sounds Long Vowel Sounds
a Faster a Thank
e Expensive e Ease
i Is i Smile
o Job o Don't
u Busy u You

Maria works at the car wash. It is very busy there. Many people work there. It is hard work, but it is a good job.

Maria washes the inside of cars with a blue rag and cleaner. Bob cleans the carpets. Manuel washes the windows. She likes Bob and Manuel.

When it is busy, Maria has to go fast. Her boss tells her, "Faster! Faster!" She tries to go faster. Bob says, "If you don't go faster, they will fire you."

Her hands are soft from washing and they smell like cleaner. But she knows this is a good job.

Maria sees a lot of cars every day. Trucks and small cars. There are expensive cars, too. Sometimes people smile at her and say, "Thank you." Sometimes they don't.

Comprehension Questions

1. What does Maria do at the car wash?

2. Have you ever taken your car to the car wash?

3. Have you seen Manuel there? Have you seen Maria?

Tuna Helper

Short Vowel Sounds Long Vowel Sounds
a Again a Scared
e Help e Eat
i Sick i Die
o Long o Lose
u Understand u You

Maria lives with her mother. Her mother is sick. When she comes home from work, Maria takes care of her.

"How was work today?" asks her mother.

"It was okay," says Maria. She is tired. She has had a long day.

"When are you going to go back to school?" asks her mother.

"Please, Mama. I don't want to talk about that tonight."

"You will never be able to do anything if you don't go back to school," says her mother. She is scared for her daughter. She is scared of many things: she is scared to die. And what will happen to Maria?

"What's for dinner tonight?" her mother asks.

"Tuna Helper," says Maria from the kitchen.


"Again," says Maria.

Comprehension Questions

1. Why does Maria's mother want her to go back to school?

2. Special Math Problem:

If you make $9,000 a year and you sleep in the same bed with your mother, and she is scared to leave the house, and there is a sale on Tuna Helper and you have the coupon, would you grow to hate her? How many boxes would you buy?

Lorraine Mavis Lupo lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and dog. She is working toward her MFA in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. She has received the Ardella Mills prize in fiction and has a short story forthcoming in ONTHEBUS.

poet's note
My experiences as a literacy tutor for adults provided the inspiration for these pieces. Some of the materials available to new adult readers try to deal with "real life" problems, but face the challenge of describing these problems in primer language. I was fascinated by the result and decided to use this form to write about similar issues.

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