You could never get Grams out of her easy chair. She seemed to cleave to it like a limpet. She even had a chamber pot poorly secreted between it and the scullery wall beside the fire: almost on the hearth. No chance of her getting a chill – chilblains maybe. It must have been that which smelled like a stagnant rock pool.
Her face was dark and wrinkled and her chins stacked like little tyres above one of a series of floral scarves which were clandestinely replaced when they faded beyond recognition.
You weren’t in a box
the army sent home from aboard.
Or those epics that Hollywood turned out.
You were simply a prime example
of knowing how to follow orders.
You were no housekeeper
but you could iron a uniform
so that no crease showed
and you sure could fold a flag.
You may not have known
where the bodies are buried
but you remember where they fell.
You bedded down in trenches.
You crossed a field
knowing full well that it was mined.
You polished your shoes while afraid.
You clung to your rifle when homesick.
In action, your thoughts were of home.
At home, your thoughts were of action.
You never complained.
Except about the rations.
You didn’t know he was just a boy.
You later learned to rationalize the fact.
You are framed in a simple black and white photo
on the dresser of a ninety year old woman
who lives in a nursing home.
You were buried with an honor guard.
You were like others
who were just like you.
Even when dead, you enjoyed their company.
– John Grey…
This millennium has grown too old for the world. As have you, my darling.
Outside, the street crackles with excitement; packed with revellers, dancers, grilled chicken, doughnuts, drums, poppers, horns, and a million streamers and balloons. A conga line weaves through the crowd. Glow sticks whirl in a galaxy of motion.
I shut the window and sit down beside you. I draw back the sheet to check your temperature. Your chest barely tells the rise and fall of life. You’ve been splintered with illness and treatment, dismantled and reconstructed. When your health could no longer be rebuilt, you were reduced to apologies and pitying looks.
You will always be magnificent to me.…
early before daybreak I wander through our house, the
floorboards creak to remind me that you died
I look for your silhouette, hear ice in your glass
and feel your hands sliding across my bare back and thighs
I may never feel that I was enough
our discord longed for the hours and days of
perfectly timed harmony
the line of your jaw and depth of your need
left me reeling every time, you shook your head and told
me there was no one quite like me
in the night I still wait for you, quietly
pushing away your last photograph
I try not to remember the way your voice sounded, and
regret that I couldn’t tell you about Jim Harrison
– Heather Brager…
If I’d put together that the wormy son of a bitch scarcely met Al’s description of the buyer, probably didn’t have a nickel to his name, and likely was, in truth, a vagrant junkie, maybe I wouldn’t have come to in the basement of an abandoned department store, ass going numb on cold linoleum, arms twisted and bound around a support beam. Maybe I wouldn’t have Louisville Slugger tattooed to my scalp, the sickening crack of wood against bone still thundering in my ears. And maybe things wouldn’t have turned into a total clusterfuck. Too many maybes, I know, I know, I conceded to her. Her silence belied her disappointment. Yeah, big surprise, I growled some more, another goddamned wrong turn. She remained cool, though, impassive. She’d heard this rant too many times already, possibly.…