Hung Down Her Head

“Your Gramma’s gonna die someday,”
she’d tell me. She’d always been dying,
since she was a girl–
her mother tried to smother her
with a pillow before walking out.
She pretended to die
to save herself, for
men to treat he meanly,
all of them,
one right after the other.

She’d sing me the song of Tom Dooley,
terrifying in her barrotone
as she rocked and
held me tighter than
I would have liked.
I miss her, but not like that–
not in that lamp light,
or with that breath,
not when she showed me
the scary realities
of oppressed
and depressed
old women
after hours.

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Daddy Issues

It was the night you

pulled me out of bed

to go find Mommy.

You brought me into a bar

in my pajamas, the ones with

the matching doll,

the ones I went to the hospital in.

She was there, drinking

with her friends after work,

the same place you met.

It was your day off and you were watching me,

kind of, but you’d been drinking too.

I knew I wasn’t allowed in a bar,

but what upset my heart didn’t matter to you.

Orange air from waist high, laughing then yelling,

the stomachache and chin to chest.

I went with Mom when we left, fearing the fight,

but you beat us home and got the pole

from the back door. I still don’t understand why

you tried to smash in the passenger side window,

my window–

but I’m glad Mom’s pick-up had a bench seat

so I could scramble away from my father

for the first time in my life.

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