family

This Family of Pronouns

He didn’t do his share
She took too much for granted
They let the house go to the dogs

They struggled to cook an egg
She complained about the smelly fridge
He shouted inanities from the bathroom

She lit a fire in the linen closet
They forgot to feed the cat
He left the car window open in the rain

I didn’t you shouldn’t I can’t
We oughtn’t I willn’t you musn’t

The police followed a trail of nouns
And found them asleep in the weeds.

Way way off
in the weeds

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brother

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I can’t imagine how puzzled
my mom must feel
to have outlived her son.

Her precious dark-haired boy,
the big one
at age 2,
meant to look after his blond
blue-eyed brother,
then curly haired
little sister,

then me, the squealing surprise package
when he
was 11.

Maybe he should have been
the baby
for a little longer,
caretaker that he was.

Never could stand
to see anyone cry, always
the one to say “It’s okay.”

I wish we’d had more time
in these years, my brother,
but I’m glad
I got to
take care of you.

Evva

Dale obit

Pardon me, my dearest friend,
while I for two minutes make your death about me.

Because they didn’t tell us our friends would die.

Maybe his friend, or hers, or theirs,
Maybe my mom’s and dad’s,
then my dad
then my brother.

But our tribe, the ones we choose, the ones
we lounge about laughing at dumb teevee with,

the ones who teach us to cross-country ski,
and always get us the perfect gift
and agonize with over yet another pair of shoes

And then cry with and
move away from and
who never listen to our excellent advice
nor we theirs,

the ones whose cores are so strong
forged in the fire of abuse, loneliness, and
unspeakable sorrow,

they

you

were supposed to prevail.

Because goddamnit

It’s all about me.

Family

The Large Family

La famille nombreuse by Max Ernst

It is usually simple.
I am elsewhere, they are in another where.
Not quite shades, not quite present.
Bone, blood connected over the wires.

Here, I am in the soup,
the flavors multivalent,
sometimes
a bit too salty
even for my taste.

A family full of matriarchs.

To My Mother

He took me aside that night
before he washed our feet.

“You know what you must do.
It was written in our book before we
were born.”
I tried to look away, my sadness was so great.
But he would not let me.

“My brother, we are one. Know this:
You are forgiven.
We both drink of this cup.”

I leave this note, and these coins
that they thought were my reward.

My brother knows my heart.

The hatred of the ages
is as nothing.

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