I’d be a fool to say I really knew what it was like on the day my wife saw
her mommy get hit by a tyrant (a shorter man with goofy glasses
and a face so filthy an entire bottle of bleach
couldn’t do justice).
And again I’d be a fool to say I know how she felt the day her mommy fought back,
bashed his scalp on the kitchen counter, packed up whatever they could
in ten minutes and split.
Often she will talk about her late mother and growing up.
She recalls being nine, her mom’s countless boyfriends
coming and going like it’s 2 for 1 at the strip joint.
She remembers being lonely, left at home for hours on end
to fend for herself, and there’s nothing for lunch
because there’s nothing to eat, maybe some soda crackers or some mustard,
or if she’s lucky some bread to mush it all together.
But please don’t be mislead, my love is not without equal emotion,
and neither was her mother who cried every time they played Chicago on the radio.
And it’s hard to say I’m sorry if she won’t tell me what’s wrong.
Maybe I’m wrong to even ask. Should I already know? Perhaps
she’s already told me; maybe in waves not in words,
like the way willow trees talk to willow trees:
warning of insects and danger
through zephyrs and pheromones.
On occasion her mother reeked of smoke and alcohol;
that’s when you knew something was wrong, the smell
of black licorice and tobacco blend.
Those days her mom starts drinking quick as she starts her beat-up ’91 Buick,
that only started half the time and stalled the same.
And nineteen years before meeting my wife, a little girl sits in the backseat fragile
as her loose tooth. Her mommy drives, headed for places
they both don’t want to go.
PHILIP JACKEY, a Midwest poet, was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. It took a diagnoses to get him writing and after years being conflicted with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, he found comfort in literature, becoming familiar with the work of poets Jim Carroll and Allen Ginsberg during his brief stay at a local psychiatric hospital. His work is heavily influenced by human trial and tribulations, as he strives to portray realism in everyday life. He currently resides in Elkhart, Indiana with wife Stephanie and two stepchildren. His work has appeared in journals such as Torrid Literature and The Write Place at the Write Time.