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Just a grapefruit

but it never fails

to make the word Mama

when I cut it 

store the half uneaten

flat against a plate

pink meat down

so that tomorrow

when I eat it it's as juicy

as today.  Washing fruit

she taught us but never this.

She just did it.  Saved

the fruit against the plate.

As I do.  As I saw it done

in my daughter's house this morning.

published in 



My job is to live.  Like Isaac

named for laughter. 

Not Job’s job, up to his ears

in death.  Tragedy


my mother knew when she lost

her first child; then I knew

she would die if I did—

so I didn’t.  My job is to live.


This year I’m seventy-five.  Good job,

Mama’d say, if she were here. 

I hear it anyway.  And soon

I will have to let her down. 


Well, I must face it.  Without

the comedy of an afterlife

there’s only dying.  How do I

find the mettle to give myself 


to the violation?  run wild?  bear left?

You see what I’m up against.

published in Speaking for my Self, Chicory Blue Press


It’s "Besame Mucho" coming through

revolving doors.  It’s 2018, the future

far from songs we danced to

left inside me.  A waiter stands

to take my order

      O waiter,

bring me fresh plums on a plate.


He’d refuse to eat.  Patiently,

his caretaker urged, “We want you

to be well; if you won’t eat, she’ll kill me.”

He smiled, “Then we’ll have to go to your funeral.”

He could do that— Southern charmer

to the end.


To find him open the kitchen cabinet:

Coca-Cola, a bag of Cheetos,

the salt inside the shaker he would fill;

a half jar of Skippy peanut butter

still intact.  I don’t want it.

It’s more than I can fathom!--

the whole of the kitchen.  The future

filled with Besame Mucho and blintzes

he stored in the freezer.


Thaw little pancakes . . .

Flicker flicker . . .

I am speaking of his flashlights in the drawer.

published in 

The New Yorker, July 22, 2019

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