Sometimes (often)he was mean. ButMamma had a bottleof SleepRite, and wouldcrush the pills, then push the powderwith a knife into a glass a wine.No one grinned as he gulped;by then, it wasn’t even a mother-daughterjoke–just quiet. We would wash dishestogether in silence, then wait until8 to laugh as he snored. We read bookswith the TV on. Then had a full eighthours.Because we did what we had to do.
loud as the sun,
inpatient for any kind of trouble
as long as it’s alongside
at the Carnival’s Krewe du Vieux
*From my poetry collection, All the Words in Between
The search party found her under
the crunch of autumn oak leaves. Rigor mortis
set in three weeks ago.
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.)
Just when it looks like
I’m making progress,
an hour and start to sp lit
(just like that)
and the other half
turns pretty ugly
Then it’s me vs. me
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
I need to be reminded
of who I am
This is when it’s time
I can reach for
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
But this won’t last
From my poetry collection, “All the Words in Between”
I’m molding into a storyteller with age,
but not without listening to how my mother
watched the world shift and write chapters.
She was working in an office for Bell South,
praying after the Challenger incident;
home, hearing what they found
under Gacy’s house; raising
me while I was too young to know what
was happening in Waco
or other places that took over the 90’s.
I can’t remember many events without
iPhones and constant coverage to flood us
with the new panic before we could digest the last.
Emotions seemed much more innocent,
too raw before millennial buzz gave us
numb stares, attention deficits.
It was life like the way her father, a farmer dressed
in rough hands and a stoic mouth, told her
the gravity of Kennedy with tears.
But generations after the last seem to start
all over again. Decades later, I was in school
in September, alerted by stern voices
and breaking news on every channel.
I was young–“what’s a terrorist attack?”
and other questions.
I wasn’t pushed into a new era
until I found her clutching Kleenex
in the living room.
I’m a wide-eyed witness, doomed to
pass around vivid images when wisdom sets.