A cognitive disease leaves flesh intact,
yet every memory is invaded by an uncontrolled growth
of cells which consume joy.
Related words: It’s the not dying first that kills me.
I can still hear him crying while I washed dishes.
I muttered the word spoiled
until it was spelled in the bubbly dishwater.
Hush, baby boy. Mama’s busy.
He learned to sleep in his own bed,
begging in the night to be held.
Hush baby boy, go to sleep. You’re a big boy now.
I bought the Ninja Turtle backpack
he wanted so badly, filled it with pencils,
paper, glue and Kleenex.
He waved goodbye the first day,
I kept my evening job because the pay was good.
Hush baby boy, Mama’s coming home.
He didn’t want a new Daddy to tie his shoes,
only his mother knew how laces looped.
Hush baby boy, he’ll be good to you.
He played in every ballgame,
I missed so many times at bat.
Hush baby boy, Mama still loves you.
Working summers at the Dairy Farm,
he saved his pay, dug a deep ditch for the water line
to the new barn and bought his own horse.
Hush baby boy, Mama knows responsibility.
He said he broke the bathroom window,
but he hoped I’d never know who did it
then he told me about the baby coming in July.
Hush baby boy, tell me June lies instead.
A Volunteer Fireman who raced
to every fire, a cowboy riding bulls,
bucking horses, his mother’s hero.
Hush baby boy, you have nothing to prove.
A Lineman before the hurricanes came,
chased storms to make a way,
held his children close till he had to go.
Hush baby boy, I’m proud of you.
Too many late nights, early mornings,
hotel rooms in foreign towns
only for a while he promised,
only till I get straight.
Hush baby boy, you can’t do this alone.
The last day he promised, no more.
He said he’d spoken to God,
Cocaine counselors, whispered changes
I dreamt about at night.
Hush baby boy, I want to believe, but you can’t come home.
He knew every combination to a safe.
Sold his mother’s gun to pay the dealer’s debt,
but an evil creditor knows weapons.
They shot him with a gun I’d owned for years.
Hush baby boy, hush, hush, hush….
Indian Springs, Nevada
In Atomic View Trailer Court,
a woman watches Sky Road
melt in the heat
and the only thing not sinking
into the road is a turtle shuffling
slowly toward the juicy shade
blackberry vines provide.
this morning, stocked up.
Not that it takes much,
now he’s gone.
She saw a soldier in town.
He became a memory.
She misses husband sounds,
farts, belches, snores,
his voice telling those terrible
glow in the dark jokes
after a shift at the Test Site.
If Mr. Broam walks by today,
she’s decided to offer him a beer,
a chair in the shade.
He won’t buy her a diamond
and diamonds might be a girl’s best friend,
but at her age the school principal
high on Cialis would be
hot as sunshine on Sky Road.
Review by Brendan McEntee