You buried your cat in your backyard,

only you put him in a casket. Yes, a tiny


little casket with a shrine underneath

a small tree. You loved him more


than any human, more than your wife,

your siblings, your parents.


You dug him up after the separation,

took him with you to a new place,

buried him somewhere I’ve never been.


A cat casket. A reminder of the only one

you’ve ever been able to connect with,


leaving those who have tried to love

you the most behind.

The Man in the Hallway

The Man in the Hallway


They never found you.

I don’t know if you’re still alive or not,

but you live inside me, even today.


You are only one of many

men in hallways who have hurt me,

but I remember you most.


It is extremely expensive

to be a victim, all the moving around,

trying to find a place which feels


like home, the specialized therapy

for decades, psychiatric meds

piling up in numbers, but I’m still not




Having lost

Having lost


She relives the moment each day,

puttering around the kitchen, believing

there are still six mouths to feed instead

of only one. The pantry is full


with canned goods past expiration dates

and cupboards overflowing with unopened

Items bought on a whim. Each day,

she brings home something new


she doesn’t need, filling the void

of being alone and not busy enough

to avoid the memory of that moment,


the one she cannot bear to remember.


So, the kitchen still hums

with the dishwasher each night, cleaning

dishes made useful for another meal,

cooked with care for people who have left.




A sea turtle came on shore to rest,

having swum around for almost a hundred years.

He stayed all day, only lifting his head

to stare up at tourists who were getting too close.

They were supposed to know better,

but still, they tried to get near a creature

who knew more than them,

who has lived on this earth longer than any of us,

who was already wise at birth.

Car Wash

Car Wash


Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” played as we drove along

Grady Way to the Brown Bear Car Wash.

My only memory of you & I spending any time alone is in a car,

usually during a manic episode, but let’s forget all that.

I want to remember our last car ride together,

you let me pick a CD from your collection of The Four Seasons,

Favorites From The 50’s & 60’s, Classical Moments, and, somehow,

The Best Of Willie Nelson.


I sat across from you for the first time in one year & four months.

Your room is small, but neat in the place you now live.

The caretakers are kind, even if the meat in the stew is too tough

and you still want to come home.

I’ve been preparing to lose you for years now, but there’s nothing

I can do other than turn up the radio with the windows down

and drive nowhere, crying my eyes out, singing loudly,

moving too fast for anyone to hear me.



Even if residents wanted nothing to do with me,

even if they despised me coming into their rooms,


cheery and chatting away about my new poetry program

in the activity area, even with responses such as:


“I don’t write. Never have, never will.”

“Will you please close those drapes, it’s too bright in here.”

“What do you mean, I hate poetry. We had to learn it in school and it was terrible.”

“You know I can’t even hold a pen anymore, Amy.”


Then, I would make my final offering:


“Well, even if you don’t participate, there will be coffee available.”


Every week, my stubborn participants wheeled themselves down the long halls

to our gathering, where I wrote out comments from our conversations,

turning memories into poems, dementia or not, laughter


sneaking its way into the heart of a building where residents

know they will most likely never leave.


I gave each of them a green plastic cup of coffee

while we talked, an offering for their bravery to trust me with their stories.


They held those cups like an afternoon on a porch somewhere,

sitting outside in the sun like they once did, bringing back what they thought was lost.