Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Imagined Night In the House of My Grandmother (Revision)

Now that you are gone,

I am graduating and my 

nightmares bear no resemblance

to the ones you may have consoled

me from in youth. 

I am fleeing the tangible and

mundane terror of a bleak and

open future, the specter of

failure moaning in my ears, 

the ghost of debt creaking the 

floorboards and rattling chains. 

I go to spend the night in

your home, hoping the memory

of you may be enough to console 

me to sleep-- which only comes 

now with a struggle. 

I drink tea on your floral couch 

and eat a peppermint from the 

bowl on the table and my lids

begin to grow heavy, a wash of

sleep calmer than any I’ve known 

lately.I climb the stairs of your warm

blue house to the bedroom you

shared with Papa for fifty some 


All night the golden anniversary clock

chimes to mock my awakeness, singing

at the hour and the half

you should have known

you should have known

you’d be awake here

and alone. 

Static (revision of 5 O'clock)

I wonder how you feel,

around 6:15

when you come home from work and

enter this hectic kitchen 

full of children flinging stories and jokes

at one another -- squeals ricocheting

off the cupboards and walls

a barrage of voices too immediate and loud 

for you-- under fire

And our enthusiasm sends you

into the living room, battered, 

to sit for the rest of the night

in front of the three-channeled television.

Like the strange failure of waves from the

broadcasting networks to the flimsy

antennae of the tv,

your signals are never strong enough

to decipher. A little fuzzier as the night

goes on, until they are entirely scrambled.

You switch off and lock yourself behind a

bedroom door. One thought runs in my 

head, already in syndication:

One day you will drop dead, 

and I won’t know a 

Goddamn thing about you.

Monday, May 10, 2010


when we went to the park a few September days
before my birthday (I am trying to remember, but
it exists in that file of memories that are Technicolor
and incomplete) what did I do to provoke you?

did I play along when you created a game where
you kicked the soccer ball at the spokes of my tires
while I drove my pink bike in loping circles ?

I thought I was so much older but the candle on the
cake in the picture says that I am only six-- the scabs
on my cheek and eye still fresh from crashing to the
asphalt, and the training wheels recently removed

meant that there were only two wheels to leave
spirographs on the church parking lot. Loops that
seem so chaotic in the making, but turn out impossibly
beautiful and intricate.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


When Roguey Tom got sick,
came down to his last days,
his body no longer able to shoulder
the brunt of his alcoholism--
his girls took him in and nursed him
let him back like they did every time
he would reappear on a greyhound 
sock-less and pifficated.

When Papa's stroke robbed him 
so violently of the ability to walk and talk
and eat, my mother would wake early
and stay late each of those four years
filling feeding tubes and
changing diapers, wiping the crust
from the roof of his mouth 
with a warm wash rag

and I am your daughter
even though we barely speak
and when you are dying
I will be the first there. 


My mother recounts her 

Childhood to me, saying:

“Every night Daddy would 

light a cigar and watch the 

CBS news or Lawrence Welk

in his rocking chair,

laughing a little.

And every morning he would 

wake next to Mama, read

the paper in his undershirt and 

suspenders and drive his dump 

truck down the street and

throw bread crumbs off the 

porch, saying "The birds gotta 

eat too, Mama."

Sometimes on Sundays 

Roguey Tom would turn up

smelling like booze

and passing out 20 dollar bills

to all the kids

Drifting through the state

like a man with no ties 

his own children no doubt 

home and worried, his 

nieces reveling in the novelty

of his visit.

Mama would make him

dinner and a cup of coffee

before Daddy collected back

his brother’s money from the kids and

drove him to the bus stop, saying

"go on back to your family, Tom."--

and I wonder, now, if he ever wanted

to buy a case of beer and get on that bus too?