No flower, May,

curls of stiff whiskers

twisting on her chin,

she bobbed her bulbous knees

through a shaggy lifetime robe

hanging over grim toenails

when we smoked on the wooden steps

of the back porch of the house

she and Henry rented;


laughed how crazy our lives were:

me, a grocery boy with a lunatic dad,

a kid who carried her a cardboard box

of canned soups, stews and baked beans

Tuesdays and Fridays;


she, so busted and beaten down some days

she could have been a leaf

flattened on a wet spring sidewalk


I never met Henry, the postal clerk

she rarely saw in daylight


Never knew why she stayed,

lips split and swollen,

staring all day at the treetops,

smoking, waiting for Henry

to stumble up the stairs


At thirteen, watching May blush

on one of those afternoons

when she spoke his name wideeyed,

lift her chin bemused

and flick another ash,

I only knew I didn’t know much




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