originally published in Your Impossible Voice, Issue One, Summer 2013


At the end of the world,

a Tuesday, I crouched

with a blue notebook

in a concrete bunker

and drank schnapps

until my liver candied

like perfumed gristle

and I groaned

writing poems

is hard. 


At my birth, a Sunday,

my mother, a nurse,

told me the story

about the woman

who stank.  She lived

in a tower, that woman.

Or what might’ve been

a tower if the woman

had been a princess

and the tower

hadn’t been

a mental ward.


Here on the deck

of this ship

that’s tossing

in this bottle

my father cast

on roiling waters

under a picture-book

starry sky, I think

about that woman

and all the things

I should have told

my daughters

when I was alive

and smelled better.


Sometimes I get angry

and the bats

in my head win

and I enjoy

letting them go.

Worse than leaning

against the rough bark

of a tree and watching

your heart flap flap

flap off a cliff,

I would tell

my daughters,

is taking it back

when it returns.

Forgiveness, yes,

but forget nothing.

I didn’t smell

all that good

when I was alive

and I am sorry

about the bats.


Some weeks I drop

a pencil in whiskey

to measure what’s left

of my brain past stroke,

past dipthongs that stretch

for days like sound

might make sense of things.

I should have apologized

to my wife at my wake

for the long nights

of walking downstairs

to the kitchen and drinking

one double after another

and eating cold pork chops

in the open fridge door

when neighbors thought

the light meant I was writing

a poem.  I should have said

poems are hard to write

after a second shower

when you still smell

like the dead sparrow

they found when they put

that woman in the tub

and spread her legs.


Decades before I died,

I pissed on my hands

so I could grip a bat

without gloves

and lace doubles

down both lines

and some nights

hit the ball out

of the park, twice.

Life was easier then.

Writing poems,

I’ll tell my daughters,

is hard when all we do

is die and folks spend

money to make sure

no one smells us.

My daughters

play volleyball

and soccer,

run cross country.

It’s not the same

and it probably is.


Three inches of water,

my mother, the R.N.,

told me, is what

they put in the tub

for that woman’s

sponge bath.

Mental wards,

she had to know,

help a story,

make us look

at the wrong thing.

No one thought

to look there,

inside her.

I’m guessing

the story

has holes.

So do we.

We are nothing

without them.



Photo By: pangalactic gargleblaster and the heart of gold