Tuesday, June 23, 2020

HOW TO BE A NEWLY ORPHANED ADULT IN SEVEN EASY STEPS

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
specifically
Mommy

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
today

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
fuck
out

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

KID/SISTER

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

We
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
yes
but
when we were together
in this house
with you—
when sister
and daughter
joined forces
two
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
interaction
conversation
communication
one who
would not have done well
with other people
people not us
your kid
and your sister
nope
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
nah
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

MY GAWD
YOU WERE SO...
JULIE!
*SIGH*

No
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
focused
hands-on
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
after

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

WAS

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

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

See that?
I said "were"

Stupid

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
sleeping
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
again

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
permanent
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 5

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

Like
June 5 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

Yep
I'm absolutely annoyed
right now
currently
PRESENT
TENSE

Friday, June 12, 2020

TRUST

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
paralyzed
you needed to feel certain
I would release you
and finish walking my path
without hesitation

then

as I took care of you
no previous experience
just ran head-first
blindly
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
stability

you knew
I would be able to cover
myself
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

PUSH

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
thrive
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
scared
skeptical
I am
about how I'm gonna
be
anything
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

THIEF

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

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

FLURRY OF EMOTIONS, PART TWO

CLAIM

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

DOCUMENTATION

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

ESCORT

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

GOALS

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

EVERYTHING BUT

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

CONSISTENCY

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

Monday, June 8, 2020

FLURRY OF EMOTIONS

THE MAIN INGREDIENT

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

REGARDLESS

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

ACCEPTANCE

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

INTUITION

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

ASSISTANCE

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

RELIEF

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

MAKE-BELIEVE

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

TRANSFERENCE OF ENERGY

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