Sunday, April 19, 2009

Aunt Sylvia (Revisited)

I originally wrote this a year ago as a prose-poem: here. A friend advised me to turn it into a poem so the reader would be forced to face the music of the crash. So, here it is. It's not in it's final draft, but I like it.

Aunt Sylvia buried her brother today

She sits in the darkness
of drawn curtains and finishes
the second of two daily cigarettes she’s
rationed for 40 years

She buried her mother six months ago

She lost her boyfriend 35 years ago
after he saw her swollen head and body
contorted in the hospital bed
     after the paramedics ripped her
     feet from the brake pedal, disregarded
     the banana-peeling skin, and
     assuming she was dead, shoved her eye back into its socket
          after her Benzedrine crash was made
          manifest in sports car confetti—
          shrapnel, hubcaps, axles, glass, blood, oil,
               un-hung ornaments under a Houston-highway lamp post
after her last red-eye as a stewardess

She once mirrored
the grace of the blue
swirling out her cigarette

She once wore
tailored coats and tall heels and
chose who was allowed to give a light

Her face and spine twist and
her eye rolls aimlessly
as she groans a slow sentence
over the phone in awkward rhythms

"Oh, Leon . . . umm . . . umm, my brother couldn't . . . uhh uhh . . . he couldn't let Mama go alone"

She always called her mom to talk
For six months she called Leon,
Now she calls the niece who brings
groceries and cigarettes

She finishes her joke and hangs up the phone

Her head grows heavy and
presses down into the wilting arm chair,
spine contracting like a rusted spring,
until the pressure releases and
wets her cheek

She picks up a third cigarette

and lights it


  1. So much in so few words. Bravo.

  2. Wow. That is a beautiful portrait of a person. I think the story is even more lovely as a poem. You have a real unique grasp of words.

  3. I just read this poem to Aunt Mary Ellen and we were both in tears afterwards. Great job, man! Love ya, bro.