Mother is still here, alive.
Smoking and drinking alone
in an old, red house in Ohio.
I continually prepare for that day,
hope it will be quick, painless.
No protracted agony, no
long, drawn-out wasting away.
No talk with my sister about placing
her somewhere else. I lie a great
deal. List things, excavate spaces.
Make up stories in order to keep
the ghosts away, and to also draw
them near. Believing the whole
time that all of this is useless. She
was the oneno one elsewho drove
to pick me up upon my release from
a Lorain, Ohio prison in 2007.
This sickens me and I hate myself.
All I can do, failing miserably,
is remember her a little, in every
way, the moment I walked out that door,
her face, her brown hair, and she
was standing there alone, waiting for me.
~ ~ ~
He had a way of saying
the truthall at once
in a walking barefoot
over broken glass style.
His wish for death
these fifteen long years
finally here. Thought
I was prepared. The constant
practice of slowly shutting
him out: the twice-a-year visits
whittled down to one then none
(the never-replied-to texts).
How, the last time ever
I saw his broken black
truck parked outside of the Time
Out bar(our bar)I drove
by without looking back.
Cleaning out my boyhood
room in Ohio after my mother
left I found a photo of him
and me one month after the wreck
in July 1999. My arm is around
his neckhis eyes stare straight
ahead wishing to forget everything
in the world. A tattered Wheeler
Landscaping polo covers him
while I wear a Bridges to Babylon
Rolling Stones concert T-shirt.
I want to describe the look on my
face as hurt yet cannot. I really
thought everything would one day
get better after all of our prisons.
It never did. My mother told
me while I was away Marc
offered to send me money,
I owe him, he said, for all
the money he sent me while
he was trapped for four long years
at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution.
Here is this photo Im holding
now. Edges brown, worn down,
my arm wrapped tightly around
Marcs back never letting go.
~ ~ ~
Sweat beads my forehead,
mop in hand, trying to soak
up the blood before the kids
walk through the door. Estelle
fell from the wheelchair, cracked
her head open, had to be
rushed to the hospital. Today
thereís a fieldtrip from Howland
elementary school, children
visit in the attempt to lift the almost
deadís spirits. Strange, I think,
like the fieldtrips high school
students make to county jails
to scare them straight. The mop
does nothing but spread Estelles
blood on the floor. Hung-
over, wondering if shes expired,
I rip off my yellow hazard gown,
quickly throw it down
so it mostly covers the pool.
Push my janitors cart over
the edges as the door bursts open
and twenty children walk by. No
one notices. Later, I sit in
the parlor chair, staring at the snow
through a window, almost dozing.
Christmas music playswhich I hate
and it brings me back to another
December, sitting in the Portage
County Jail, waiting for someone
to visit, my name to be called. Then
later, my now-dead father, trapped
in a nursing home for two weeks
recovering from surgery saying
over and over, please get me out
of here, I dont want to be left here.
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