What They Said, Origins

The first time I remember ever writing down what somebody said, more or less, I wrote the words of my grammar school babysitter Eva Balco.
I loved Eva Balco, and talked to her on the telephone every single day. Her husband Jake worked at the Farrell Birmingham plant in our town of Ansonia, Connecticut. He was a big silent man. They didn’t have children and so Eva and I became relatives. I asked her a million questions about Jake.

Eva Balco

Round babysitter Eva Balco
woman of infinite patience
she would be all characters
in the plays I would write often
based on neighbors she had
a tiny family husband named Jake
he was big too we talked about
Jake a lot.
One day I asked her
what Jake was really like who was
Jake when they met when they married
who was Jake now
Jake is Elvis Presley
said Eva Balco
and then she laughed
so I laughed too.
One day, she said,
you’ll know what
I mean. And even though
I didn’t understand
not really way before
my own Elvis Presleys
I had a classic black and white notebook
I wrote it down
Eva Balco’s husband Jake
is Elvis Presley
because I knew one day
I’d understand.

Esther Cohen
Let me tell you why I'm here, and why I hope you'll join me. I am here to poem, to play with words, to tell stories when I can, and to ask you for yours. Words are what I love, how I see, and what I say. Words are how I know my life, and how I find my friends. I'm here to ask you to join me. Right here. To send me your stories, and your poems. And to read mine when you can.


  1. The question is which phase of Elvis Presley. His funky raw beginning blues phase, or his schmaltzy Los Vegas phase.
    I know that the first record I ever bought was Heartbreak Hotel. When I told him that, my dentist once said when I was a captive audience in his chair “it figures”.

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