My poem “Leavings” was just published by Silver Birch Press. I’ll post the poem here, as well as a link to the Silver Birch site. On the site, I tell a little bit about writing the poem.
Leavings are untidy. Remembering
what you want to say as the car pulls away,
or the cell phone drops into your purse,
restraint in an embrace, the casual
see ya, when you ache for more.
There was that time my mother died—
a stiff, proud woman who did not touch.
She lay in bed, while her brothers and I
hovered. We asked if she needed a blanket,
if she wanted music, if she were hungry,
thirsty. At each offering, she jerked her head
from side to side, tight-lipped, angry.
Then the young, Hispanic hospice aide reached
out and took her hand. She knew what leavings
needed, what my mother couldn’t bring herself
to ask for, what we didn’t understand to give.
My mother sighed and held that gentle,
reassuring hand. The aide leaned in, caressed
a wisp of hair on her forehead. My mother smiled,
and took her last breaths.
I’m so honored to have this poem published in Third Wednesday near one by Ted Kooser. Fine company indeed! This poem is also included in my poetry collection I lost summer somewhere.
“The corners of death fold us into ourselves”
– Loretta Diane Walker
Mother and I are sniping. This visit
has been that way. The farm is rundown
as she is now at 94, bent over her walker,
bare-knuckled in her independence.
She says I mumble. I say she never listens.
We know this game. I’m packing to go home,
and she calls, “Do you want breakfast?”
I mutter yes, knowing she won’t hear.
It starts again.
I’m her favorite and visit least. I’ll look back
on this weekend, feel guilt. She will win
another round. This time when we hug goodbye,
there are no tears. As I drive away I glance
back to make sure she’s in the doorway,
First published in Third Wednesday
Painting by Mark Tinsdale
My friend Steve Deutsch has a fine new poem in Borfski Press Magazine. Please visit his blog and leave comments for him there.
We found my mother
on the third floor
of a hospital
that should have been shuttered
in the 80’s.
The lights were dim
and the walls and halls
so covered in filth
it seemed they
had absorbed the misery
of the past 30 years
and the anguish would no longer
It wasn’t hard to find mom.
She screamed “Help me”
every couple of minutes.
We heard her from the elevator
above the endless beeping
and the garbled sounds
from the PA system.
The fact that we
were now with her
did not alleviate her need to scream.
Nor did reasoning.
She had fallen again
and broken her tailbone.
She was 95 and failing
and I was the good son—
the one who answered the call
at 2 AM,
booked the 1000 mile trips
and tried to find a place
where she could end her days
It was rewarding in an exhausting way.
I was the one to be counted on.
there is just so much
we can do for one another.
There are limits to prerogatives
We practice love,
in a moment of lucidity
she stared at my face—
a face she had known
my whole life,
I was again
as the infant
she had held
to her breast.
– Steven Deutsch
First published in Borfski Press Magazine
I had no mother,
no tribe. Swallows
heard me crying.
They gave me flight,
to feel the wind,
to find my spirit.
They gave me a mate
to birth our young
in ancient cliffs.
They gave me companions
in winter’s cold.
Someday I will rise to the sun.
My feathers will gleam iridescent.
My home will be in cloud cliffs.
I will look down on Earth’s chaos
where my mother disappeared.
I will no longer miss her.
– Sarah Russell
First published in Ekphrastic Review
Based on a painting by Benjamin Chee Chee,
a Native American artist
For Poets United theme “Rising Up”