Thursday, April 14, 2022


You're a prayer

a need

a gimme right now

a sweet tooth

sleep deprivation

a daydream and nightmare

a soul itch

a bite my bottom lip and covet

a what if I can't get to you

a get my shit together so I can

You're a sacrifice

a Simon Says

a looped thought

a heart murmur

a secret creeping from my pores

an ego check

a Freudian slip

a tsk-tsk and an aht-aht

a praise dance

a gallon of patience

an answer within six questions

You are

clasped hands and sore knuckles

a soon

a hope

baited breath

a please and thank you

a rooftop-screeched


Saturday, June 5, 2021


**I've been trying to tell this story, in writing, since July 2020. Today, the one-year anniversary of Mommy's death, it is done. This is not the full story; lots of backstory details are missing. But they're not needed for this version to be a complete meal. I'll write the full one at a later date. **

In movies
and on TV
we often see
terminally ill people
begging those they love
to help them die

don't just stand there
watching them suffer
do something
make it stop

In movies
and on TV
it's all fake

until in real life
your life
it's not

You think you know
think you've displayed them
in the biggest ways
think you've helped people
done the most valuable favors
given of yourself
in the hardest ways

you think
when you tell
someone you love
you'll do anything
for them
you'll have the strength
when the time comes
to do whatever

no matter what

is help them die

In movies
and on TV
the anguish
on the face
of the loved one
being stared in the eye
while hearing that plea for help
is fake

until in real life
your life
on your face
it's not

When your mother
now barely 90 pounds
whose skeleton
dismally protrudes
through her rice-paper thin
brown skin
whose ability to tend
to her basic needs
even the simplest of them
has been savagely snatched
by The Intruder
while you watched
her discouragingly rapid decline
for weeks

when you witness your mother
whose idea of freedom
is self-sufficiency
grow angrier
more rebellious
more defeated by the hour
because her freedom
has run its 76-year course

when your mother
stops fighting and instead
starts verbalizing
her intense desire
to exit the scene

when your mother
has already been
subtly asking you
to help her escape

when your mother
two days
before her flight
looks you in the face
as you two struggle
to adjust her ravaged body
in bed
and wails in gut-wrenching agony:
and your heart
inside your chest
from the crushing
verbal impact

when your mother
finally declares
a state of emergency

you call 911

but not on the phone

they can't bring her
the help she wants

you gotta go
above their heads
way above

you gotta call
the ancestors

Of the myriad on staff
you're certain
of the most influential


the ones whose grip
would be firm enough
yet still loving enough
to convince her to let go
come live with them 
in the upgraded realm
where she would know
the best kind of freedom
convince her
that her only child
her last-living sister
and all her unfinished business
that weighed so heavily
on her heart
will be covered 
and handled
with the utmost care

Two days after her plea
consciousness waning
suffering deepening
yet grip on the unfree world
still tight enough with worry
to keep her bound

you make the literal
life-changing call
with your whole chest
with all your faculties in place

with the knowledge
that 911 calls
are the most serious
of them all

You get in the car
start driving 
and you call the six of them
one by one
by name
tell them to listen
tell them you're serious
tell them you understand 
what you're about to say
give them explicit instructions

"She's tired.
She's suffering.
She doesn't wanna be here.
But she won't let go.
One of you has the influence.
One of you can make her let go.
So one of you gotta come get her.
I don't care who.
But one of you gotta do it.
And you gotta come get her
While Pauline is still here.
Before she goes home for the weekend.
She has to be here with me when it happens.
So you gotta come get her...tonight."

You finish your command
drop the bills at the post office—
the bills for June 
that she was so upset 
the day before
that you hadn't mailed yet—
go back home
call freshly made
and lie on her bed
while she thrashes incessantly
in the hospice bed
and watch her
for four hours
the two of you
engaging in countless 
wordless glances

glances you know
are the last ones 
you'll ever share

At 10:14 p.m.
on June 5th
when you look at the clock
after you
and her sister
with hands affixed to her body
have stood inches from her face
watching her finally let go
you look in your mother's peaceful eyes
before you gently
press them closed for good
and ask her:

"Which one of 'em
came and got you?"

©2021 Charlene E. Green

Saturday, January 30, 2021


In 2020
we found out
you no longer need
a gat
or bomb
to set it off
spark panic
let 'em know
who got the juice

In 2020 and beyond
without a mask
it's all you
you the one
got 'em wincin'

You out here packin'
not tellin'
you ain't the one
to be fucked wit'

You say
come at me
put your life
in my hands
git closer than
six feet
feel the ferocity
of this tainted breath
trashing your orifices
let these
hazardous particles
from this exposed
sneeze and cough
I sullied the space with
engulf the membranes
of your nose
slither through your parted-lip grin
cut a rug on your tongue
roughhouse in your throat
picnic on your hands
the same diseased hands
I watch you mindlessly rub
your irritated eyes with
while I smile in your face
and literally
kill you

But not softly
my shit potent
more lethal
than carbon monoxide
snatch up your whole family
all your Day Ones
your baes and babies
in a single birthday party
graduation celebration
holiday dinner
cease all that
huggin', touchin', and kissin'
faster than a prison guard
on visit day
separate you
from your treasured beloved
on their deathbed
saying your sob-filled goodbyes
from the other side
of a hospital window
tracing I love yous
across the glass
from your house
or the hospital lobby
on Zoom
instead of up close
holding their hand
ushering them on to the afterlife
like your spirit needs

without a mask
21st-century firing line
walking hot spot
black sheep of humanity
your naked mug
banned from all businesses
illegal in some states
encountering you
is like being thrust
into an unexpected game
of Russian roulette

In 2020 and beyond
don't forget
to cue Bell Biv DeVoe:
never trust a bare face
and a smile

©2021 Charlene E. Green

Thursday, July 9, 2020


Dear Mommy,

Some days
your death feels like
a calculus exam
laid in front of me
when I can only do
basic arithmetic

being jarred from sleep
in the middle of the night
by a starved
angry grizzly bear
tearing down the tent
while on a camping trip

an offensive comment
my spirit is forced
to listen to
at ear-splitting decibels
on repeat

being trapped
in a small room
with the incessant
low-battery beep
of a smoke detector

biting my tongue
in the same spot
28 times
in one day

having gum surgery done
without anesthesia

being shoved
in the back
and crashing face-first
into a pile
of glass-shard-filled dirt

steel-toe cowboy boots
knocking violently
against my temples

cat claws
being slowly dragged
across the entirety
of my body

I'm not strong enough
for this today

I want to
your ashes
back into your flesh
so I can rest my forehead
against yours
and we can nuzzle noses
one more time

please come back

I miss you

I need you

I love you

all of the above

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


1. Remind yourself every hour
that you're grown
and you been on your own
for decades now
so stop acting like
you really need parents
to get you through
the days and years

2. Tell yourself
every time you cry
for longer than 5 minutes
to suck it up—
that's too much damn sobbing
in one day
you ain't got the energy
to spare...
you got the rest of your life
to battle this demon
and you're gonna need
all these precious tears
you're squandering

3. Be sure to show
at least five extra teeth
and turn on all the lights
in your eyes
when you smile at strangers
who ask how you are—
you need them to believe you
when you lie and say
you're good—
you're in no way prepared
to let the truth slip out...
so keep those acting lessons
you took in the 90s
tucked in your back pocket

4. Walk around all day
with your fists balled up
so that every time the panic
about the fact that
Mommy's house
is no longer gonna be home
for you
once you clear it out and leave
sneaks up beside you
and tries to hold your hand
you'll be prepared
at all times
to sock that fucker
in the throat

5. Spend at least thirty minutes
every morning
rehearsing the myriad ways
there are to tell people
Mommy's never coming back
before you leave the house
and possibly see people
who haven't heard yet
or get on the phone
to handle her affairs
so your spirit will be strong enough
to withstand the force
of the torrent
distressing your tear ducts

6. Do not loiter
in the spot in the house
where you spent the most time together—
you know your breathing tends
to get a little shallow
your eyes dart erratically
and your nerves fray—
just dip through
get what the hell you need
and get the

7. When you go to bed
don't kid yourself
into thinking tomorrow
is gonna be any better
than today
cuz you've only been
a grown-ass orphan
for 2.5 weeks
and Lord knows
this is only the trailer
for this horror flick
that you will never
be able to get up
and walk out of

Monday, June 15, 2020


Who better
more appropriate
than the two of us
to send you
into the ancestral realm?

The Onlys
the baby sister—
last of the five—
and the lone child
a two-woman team
who cherished you
in ways no others could
came together
combined all the love
in their hearts
and gave every bit of it
to you

I didn't do it alone
that would've been impossible

I did large chunks alone
when we were together
in this house
with you—
when sister
and daughter
joined forces
sometimes three
days a week
during your last month
with us
our care and devotion
were unmatched

Cuz we knew you
we understood you
we knew how
to figure out
the you
that The Intruder
was turning you into
better than anyone else could
cuz you were...
a special kinda patient
one who needed
a special kinda care
one who
would not have done well
with other people
people not us
your kid
and your sister
nobody woulda been able
to speak to you
handle you
pacify you
like us
nobody woulda been able
to embrace your special
the way we did
they wouldn't have gotten
your jokes
wouldn't have been amused by
your snide remarks
would've been put off by
your super-specific
demands and requests
wouldn't have known when
to be firm with you
wouldn't have had
the slightest idea
how to fight with you
shut your madness down
would have surely
gotten fed up
with your constant
escape-artist act—
oh, man
you and your escaping
from the bed
time and time again
after promising every day
to STOP...
and you didn't stop
had no intention of stopping
until you physically couldn't
do it anymore


just us
The Onlys
could do that job
cuz it had to be done
with love
and nobody loved you
more than we two

And when you decided
to make your exit
you made sure
to have us
right there in the room
so you could see us
feel us
so we three
could be together
for the last time
for your last hurrah
your final minutes
so we could look you in the eyes
watch your spirit flee your body
kiss you good night
then comfort each other

You made sure to leave
enveloped in the love
of your two favorite people:
your kid
and your sister
the only ones
who could send you
out of this realm
in peace


Referring to and thinking of you
in the past tense
is really...
just stupid to me

I mean
it truly sounds
cuz you were just here
you've always been here

See that?
I said "were"


Day Ones and I
came in really late
the other night
from a much-needed break
from purging your things
and when I opened the front door
I forgot
for about five seconds
you weren't inside
not wanting
to be jarred awake
by our burst of energy
our midnight-hour cackles
the singing
of the Prince song
that we had just heard
on the radio
and belted so loudly
prior to getting out
and I found myself
trying to be quiet
till I remembered
your bed was empty
cuz you weren't here
you're never gonna be here

What kinda sense does that even make?

It doesn't
cuz it's stupid

It's as stupid as every time
my phone rings now
and when the people
on the other end
talk to me about you
I have to respond
with past-tense terms
but I don't do it right away
all the time
cuz I forget
that you're no longer IS
and then I have to backtrack
correct myself
correct myself about
your being
your permanent not-here-ness
that's a long fucking time
you know

And what kinda sense does it make
for me to be fumbling over that distinction
in eight out of ten calls?

It doesn't
cuz it's stupid...
and annoying
to be honest
cuz I know
that correction
isn't gonna change
your status isn't gonna revert
it's not like I can
wait it out
like your IS
is gonna return
and allow me
to get back
to speaking
and thinking of you
the way I did
before June 5th

And what kinda sense does it make
for June 5th
to now be responsible
for the reason
I have to forever
change the way
I speak
about your existence?

June 5th and I
may never be cool again
I may indefinitely
side-eye that mug
wanna cuss it out
even cause it harm

And look at me
talking about injuring
a goddamn calendar date
as payback
for the way it has
injured me

I'm absolutely annoyed
right now

Friday, June 12, 2020


Two days before you left
I asked you
if you were worried about me
and you said:
"No. You'll be all right."

But for the weeks
leading up to that
you had been secretly
telling friends and fam
that you were concerned
you asked them
to check on me
after you were gone
make sure I was okay

you were ready to go
but not ready
to leave me
your baby
you needed assurance
that when you did fly
I wouldn't stand there
you needed to feel certain
I would release you
and finish walking my path
without hesitation


as I took care of you
no previous experience
just ran head-first
into The Intruder's
booby trap
stood strong
amid your weak
didn't flinch
at the unpredictability
the scary
the downright messy
of your sick
no matter how hard
it was to watch you
suffer through it

as you watched
my friends
who consider you
their other mother
come through and
love on me
and you
make me laugh
help me help you
help keep me standing
when you knew
I wanted to fall
as you saw
how well I covered you
how well they covered me
you saw nothing but

you knew
I would be able to cover
and then

you started to let go
decline hastened
body parts began
to shut down

you started packing
when you knew it was safe
to travel

Two days before you left
I asked you
if you were worried about me
and you said:
"No. You'll be all right,"

and your word
has always been sturdy


I cried through my entire dinner
but I was hungry
so I ate

salted my food
with teardrops
chewed and swallowed with obligation—
I mustn't be wasteful—
you wouldn't wanna see that
you wanna see me go forth
take good care of myself
even if I bawl while doing it
even if I don't know how I'm gonna
make it to the next moment
without you
even if I feel like a mess
too wretched to clean up

you would want me to keep going
no matter how many days
or years
you've been gone
no matter how painful it is
no matter how confused
I am
about how I'm gonna
something worth smiling about
something you'll be relieved about
something that'll make me feel
like I really did the damn thang
in your absence

you would want me to thrive
no matter how many meals
I gotta salt
with these tears
to get there


People loved you for
your grace and modesty; heart
snatching was your game

Tuesday, June 9, 2020



The Intruder took
your body. I took your soul
to use as my guide.


I'll tell our story
through all the haiku, free verse,
and prose I can write.


In the midnight hour
she told me (sister) Linette
helped her cross over.


I'll shine again one
day, like the light in your eyes,
and smile on your face.


I want them to leave
the hospital bed. It's the
last place I held you.


Even at death, you
were intentional, just like
you were in your life.

Monday, June 8, 2020



Body shutting down
limbs getting cold, only love
to keep you comfy


Although declining
you'll still cuss a MF out...
it's me. I'm MF!


Lying here with you
knowing these are our last hours
together in flesh


Kept opening eyes
looking at me. We both knew
they were last glimpses.


Ancestor(s) came to
get her last night, like I asked.
Now we can both rest.


Watched you take final
breaths. Watched your face melt into
joyous place of peace.


Telling myself I'm
house sitting while you're away
or I may lose it


Wearing your jammies
to bed. Maybe they'll help me
wake up more like you.

Saturday, May 30, 2020


After you're gone...
after The Intruder
cleans its plate
puts its utensils down
sighs with satisfaction
and takes you from me...
what will I do
in this house
once all the people
who have come to
help me
cry with me
cradle me in their arms
tell me I'm gonna be fine
tell me they're here for me
tell me they understand
encourage me to eat
urge me to get some sleep
push me to take care of myself
advise me about
how to go on without you...

have left?

cuz they have lives
other important things
they have to do
that they've put off
long enough
to be here
"emo-sitting" me

what then?

there will come a time
when I'll have to face
the silence
the empty
the fact that when I
"darken up" the house at night
it'll just be
and your vacant room
your purse
all your things
but no you

what will I do
how will I comfort myself
that first night
after they've all gone
and you're gone too
and I'm here
by myself
wind whistling outside
neighbors next door
across the street
raccoons and coyotes
running amok
in the roads
like it's a regular night
like I'm not over here
staring at walls
peering around in confusion
screeching at the moon
trying to convince myself
I'm gonna sleep soundly
or at all...

I said
what will I do?

why aren't you answering me, Mommy?

I need answers
I need the cheat sheet
for this fucked-up test
I'm gonna hafta take
at some point
when you leave me
in a house only you
have called home
and I am tasked
with residing here
till I'm done
closing you out
with piecing together
this terrifying lesson
that Life has handed me
for which I have

Friday, May 29, 2020



Won't let "I can't breathe"
be the one-liner you keep
forcing us to moan
#GeorgeFloyd #EricGarner #BreatheForThem


Took a breath tonight
deep, long, for George Floyd, like the
one he struggled for
#GeorgeFloyd #BreatheForHim


They're the main looters:
stealing black lives from the arms
and hearts of loved ones


Harness vibe of "I
can do this" days; IV-drip
into days I can't