Poetry Contest ending in two days at www.rattle.com — Toes Tagged and Ready

This photograph by photographer James Bernal spoke to me, I had to pen something. Not for contest but for my own silly brain –
the contest for your poetry ends in 2 days, Jan. 1, 2015 – (where’d the year go?)
Here’s the details should you want to add your own vision into what you see
this is how abbe saw it –


ToesTagged and Ready


I was coming home from work
and passed the front window  -Oh Jesus it’s Thursday
I hurried my pace
it was hard working 2 jobs and caring for my  96 year old ‘ma-in-law’
“Be-bop” we nicknamed her decades ago when
she loved to dance
long before her only child Ted evicted our marriage to live out his
mid- life crisis fantasies
leaving me the house, bills, a permanent scar and Bebop
(he died from a Cocaine overdose a few years ago
I never told her)

that window facing the front is her bedroom
Bebop likes only white walls
and her curtains remain open day and night
she says light is salvation and cleanliness
even car lights

I was prepared as I looked in –
that’s her masseuse Matt checking on her
she always so relaxed when he’s through she asks to be toe-tagged and covered with
a sheet and left for “dead” in case ‘this is the night’,
(I pay extra for this ‘ossification’ time – we reuse the tags)

Matt has to wait for me to help move her off his table and I’m running a little late
we chat a few moments while he explains where she’s ‘knotted’
then we wake her at which she will be screaming
“MALFEASANCE MALFEASANCE” at the top of her lungs
the sheet will slide off and her well fed , but stiffened body
takes a few minutes to adjust and then we guide her
into bed –
we’re used to hearing her hybrid words “motherfuckerhellsbellsshitass”
upon being startled -she says that when she bumps into something
or sits in the Doctors office too long
(they take her in as soon as we sign in)

the neighbors are used to her routine
Bebop always sits outside for hours in clement weather
watching the sunshine wanting to go “toward the light”
some of the neighbors walking by are kind enough to have a few words with a lady
who will randomly say “didyaknow squirrels will suck the nuts off a male dogsack”
or “eat your prunes or face the enema”
I have no idea where she gets her facts
her nuances are quite well known and repeated
a few ask why I don’t put her in a home
I tell them she’s happy in her own home for now
flirting with her beloved masseuse and madness
she hasn’t run away
or fallen, (yet)
even dresses herself — all her clothes are shades of whites
we don’t even mention if she wants them on inside out
and she never argues
except when it’s time for Matt to leave on Thursdays
she yells from her bed thinking it’s her son – she tells the masseuse
“not to leave his wife and mother for that young cunt”
Matt bends over and says,
“Bebop, there’s no other woman but you” and kisses her cheek
out like a light she goes smiling
Matt leaves, I always tip him well
the snoring varies and animates the shadows in the room
transitioning softly from Alpha to Delta as the moon passes
I check Bebop before I get ready for bed knowing
by 7am sharp she will rise – ( I pull off her toe tags first thing)
then she shrouds herself in the white bedsheet sail
planting herself in front of the bedroom window
transfixed waiting for the sun to rise
while pretending to know every cat or dog’s name that passes
enjoying the sight of children even though most call her crazy
delighting and pointing to  “Gods light”
she waves to let God know where she is
convinced that she won’t die on cloudy days

I leave her in the care of a woman who comes daily
who helps bathe and feed Bebop watching her closely
When I leave in the morning I kiss Bee’s cheek
and she reminds me it might be the day she’s claimed by the Lord
and wants her toe tags close by so she can see them “just in case” God
might not recognize her cause she’s so old now

No one here cares when she cusses out loud at the TV when
Oscar the Grouch opens his garbage can
or if she asks for pancakes at dinner
with canned sardines
I let her relish in her second childhood
how can I put her in a rigid institution
how can I abandon her too
how can I be the one to snuff out  her “light is salvation”
or watch them keep her inside and shove her full of doping
medications  to control her curses and impulses
how do I explain she needs a masseuse once a week
and her toes tagged every night…




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