Tag Archives: poem

What We Had to Do

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Sometimes (often)
he was mean. But
Mamma had a bottle 
of SleepRite, and would 
crush the pills, then push the powder
with a knife into a glass a wine.
 
No one grinned as he gulped;
by then, it wasn’t even a mother-daughter
joke–just quiet. We would wash dishes
together in silence, then wait until 
8 to laugh as he snored. We read books
with the TV on. Then had a full eight
hours.
Because we did what we had to do. 
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This is Thirty

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This life isn’t 
a group of the ladies
in ridiculous stilettos 
on a pointless Tuesday
sipping Cosmopolitans 
while sharing the latest
philosophy about the hottest
one-night-stand-of-the-week,
holding the glass above
their head-held-high
because this is some kind
of fully-formed thirty,
this imaginary adulthood
they told us about in order
to soften the blow. 
 
…No. 
 
This is the girl who lost 
her debit card the same day
she realized she left her umbrella
at home, forever figuring out
the answer to what and why
in her favorite worn boots,
now until…whatever. 
This is
her friends
when they share the latest hook-up
life lesson with the sexual outcast
as she sips a beer, and takes 
notes about life and the curve balls
from those still finding pennies
between the couch cushions
with her because
wake up, this is the actual thirty. 

That Song

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Her song, smoked
and low
at the microphone
sent me into a mood. 
 
She sent me to
the dark corners of 
barrooms across
small town America,
 
where the ground 
at the entrance is damp,
inviting a chorus of critters
to translate for the others
 
that couldn’t make it. 
I want to meet you there,
the one where the cypress 
tree grows and mimics
 
shade for a room without
AC as the humidity 
and the background guitar
makes me feel easy, ready to
 
flirt with you like new lust. 
She’s convincing me, between
the lines, to love you like
a one night stand, even when
 
I’m not even into that sort 
of thing–but she sings
about burning the mattress
with someone she remembers,
 
and suddenly, during the third
beer, I understand why she thinks
we need to leave this place and find
some quiet, treat the loneliness
 
but not the disease. These days,
that’s all we can do. That’s why
she sings to us as wine creeps up
on me as I wait to go home, meet you there

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*From my poetry collection, All the Words in Between 

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The search party found her under

the crunch of autumn oak leaves. Rigor mortis

set in three weeks ago.

Quickly,

she was filed next to Bella in the Witch Elm—

and other mysteries. She’ll adjust to tight spaces

and purgatory silence.

After the autopsy,

even the anchor woman shrugged. Everyone

followed suit, except for the shadow who defaced

brick walls with accusations.

Three months later,

another college student left a party and never

made it across her front lawn. She too entered her

very own cold case as the town buzzed around

her bruises and hammer-stained flesh.

Finally, my daughter was left alone so I could console

her soundlessly. But sometimes,

neighbors remember, and frown:

“I’m so sorry…but you found closure, so it’s better now.”

 

 

(No. It’s not.)

Me Vs. Me

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Just when it looks like

I’m making progress,

 I fumble

an hour and             start to         sp  lit

                                                   (just like that)

and the other                                half

turns pretty                                      ugly

very fast.

Then it’s me vs.                          me

all weekend.

I want to sleep

away a bad day

or distract myself

when the solitude’s

quiet gets too loud      but first,

                                                                 I must listen

                                                                 to voices tear

                                                                 the skin on my face

                                                                 to shreds;

                                                                 I need to be reminded

                                                                 of who I am

                                                                 despite promotions.

This is when it’s time

For medication–anything

I can reach for

and after,

                                                                   it’s okay

                                                                   to be numb

                                                                  to the voice

                                                                  in the room.

Well, it’s morning

and I thought it over.

I’m not as bad

as the voices are

convincing.

                                                 But this won’t last

                                                for long.

Stigma

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On my fathers side,
They ignored the elephant
On the living room couch
And called it toughness.
 
This was how they turned
Whisky
Percocet
Wife and kids
Into therapy. 
 
This was how my cousin
Turned a belt into a noose
In his closet.
 
This was how they called 
my aunt the “bitter black woman” 
stereotype and how they saw
her charge to  dim
A room.
 
And this is how the walls in the living
Room finally started
                      To cave in
from the extra weight
as they sat around and gossiped
about their self-aware sister. 
At least no Prozac among them.
I guess this was toughness.