Kicking Back The Blues

Mom sips from a can of beer

after cleaning out more boxes

of the dead.

The waxy cold of Dad’s forehead

still hot on her lips.


Her face is filled with things

that are missing. Questions,

attaching themselves like leeches,

pull her into a place

I refuse to go.


I am dancin’.

Jump-glidin’ across the kitchen,

while a picture of an old man,

praying over a bowl of soup and

thick bread, looks down on her.


This here’s a laughin’ dance

that pulls Mom to the floor.

We are two wild hens flappin’

our wings, tryin’ to lift

unexpected blues, that

memory sometimes plays.


We are in Swing Time, the funky

chicken days, reachin’ way back

to Johnnie Otis, Willie and the Hand Jive.

Way back to the safety of warmed milk

poured over a piece of cornbread.

Back to ancient footwork accustomed

to dust, sticks, fireside validations.

Way back.

Before we knew men and sex.

When we were pillars rising above the

heap of our fractured lives.


Mom sits down.

Rubs the loose skin on her arms.

Tells me how she misses having

Dad here to share her dinners.

That he might still be with us,

if he had only listened.


I keep dancing.

My feet movin’ like a metronome,

beating our wounds into the floor.

Trying to kick back the blues that

peels her open. Pouring her

seeded flesh into my mouth,

until exhaustion makes us fall

on top of beds still warm from

the heat of the day; until our

anger dies in the month of

gypsies, when Jesus followed

falling stars, waiting to

be born again.


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