Now realizing back in my earliest childhood days and teens

an inexorable coat of arms draped over my extended family

it being a unique container reeking of whiskey but filled by my kin

supplanting a ship in one of those impossible bottles


‘Irish milk’ it was jokingly yet ruefully called by the Eire choir

other members of my jumbled heritage not so quip literate

the males never in need of an occasion to disappear another sixer

the female DNA in my lineage being reluctant collaborators


This excess liquid cowardice brutally poisoned all in reach

awakening demons requiring just such nutrients for release

the imbibers briefly relieved of their day-to-day burdens

accepting tit-for-tat as a grotesquely even proposition


Still, mine was mostly a family of decent beating hearts

yet busted up and dwarfed lives so very raw and real

with dreams drawn but primarily self-quartered

and loves mutilated despite appearances peripherally intact


Our poverty of mind and wallet an incognito fait accompli

but it gathers no leavening to spit at oneself

true, nobody ever once asked as to our two cents

likely because we showed no means of affording it


Generations later, by tilting at the malignancies

and changes empowered by will and through foresight

we carry a lessened assortment of scarlet letters

with reddened scars now hidden under middle class costumes

The Silent Life

Not too long after squeezing out of the womb

encountering the first of many inferred admonitions

my proferred alms became assurances

“I’m just here to observe”

My blankness thus ingrained, designating me negligible and safe


Yes, I indivisible-ized myself

choosing residence in the shadows

abiding in my multiple sanctuaries

facilitating a minimalist social repertoire

in a life of frugal mercies


Banking facts, figures and ideas

my stockpile of interactive fuel

aided by ghostly guide dogs for the tentative and unsure

quiet reading, yes. silent viewing, okay. thinking (to myself), affirmative.

expressing feeling? danger !!! danger!!!


What about questions?

is the stone to be polished or rolled away?

as if I knew anything about either

fleshing these bones — a step too soon?

for to speak is to create a real me

Family, or Not

* Inspired by the Bruce Springsteen song “Highway Patrolman”

We was raised on a family farm way out of town

croppin’ wasn’t easy but the lifeblood we found

two boys, me and Jed, our sister Rose died at eleven

buried past the barn when he was twelve and I ten

one day here, then gone, Mama said it was the fever

told me not to say a word and everyone believed her


Jed soon turned dark, just ugly treating others

we was the same but so unlike blood brothers

he earned a reputation, it spread and soiled me

kids would quietly edge away, watching fearfully

but Becky Cook took to likin’ me, be it luck or fate

with her I felt alive,  a liftin’ of the heaviest of weight



Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between


My parents said don’t you dare bring her around

When I’d ask why, they’d say you just calm down

Jed told me to do it, with a look like he knew more

Then he’d smirk and continue on with his chores

one day Becky called wanting to see me by myself

Daddy and Mama in town, Jed to parts unknown


She showed up and I told her I liked her smile

I went to find my  favorite book, floatin’ all the while

when I returned, she was gone less a single shoe remaining

I called her name to no answer, silently spittin’ out a prayer

then I heard a scream outside and tore into the yard

Jed was draggin’ Becky away like a corpse to the boneyard



Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between


Jed turned, let her go, then ran into the barn

Becky shaking, her dress dirty and blood adorned

Daddy’s truck appeared, he asked “why’s she here?”

“Jed hurt Becky” and Daddy’s eyes displayed fear

“He’s in with the livestock and I want at him”

Daddy had Mama take us inside, him pale and grim


A single shot rang out, Daddy took two hours to return

sayin’ “there’ll be no more problems, nothing of concern”

an hour later, he spoke again with “it’s time for the truth”

he said, “Emory, this is gonna taste like bitterroot

it was evil but family, what Jed did to our sweet Rose

but taking it outside us left me nothing but what I chose”



Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between



Painful truth

My first job, if you will, was fretting about my family

as if a 12-year-old could form a clear picture

I knew joy and laughter were sorely absent

in this festering family abscess

but lacked the experience to formulate how askew we were

as silence dripped into a pervasive roar

It was the day in-day out, unadorned resignation

kinship and camaraderie absent

during my solitary life of reading and writing and wondering

but never sharing

So why not perform an exorcism on this loneliness and solitude?

neither was welcomed

and import touch, embrace and warmth

Ha!!! The goddamn lesson I learned is that hope and deserving fall woefully short when butting heads with colossal need

that children will inherit the legacy when adults are woefully damaged

that it’s carved in caves prehistoric and never not to be

For a child cannot fix parents