Thursday, March 22, 2012



his mother has died
alone on the kitchen floor
choked to death
on her own vomit

she laid there
for six days
nobody missed her

and it’s his problem
because the police
find his name
in her address book

he wants
to give her a funeral
then he’ll bury her


he is divorced with
two children
a boy and a girl
I don’t
know their names

maybe he’s an English
likes to forget
the gritty details of life
once in a while

or maybe he’s an actor
but his
true passion is writing
he spends all his
free time at
community theater

he was already divorced
when you knew him
or maybe he was a Russian colonel
who fell in
love with a Cuban girl

she defected and moved
to Chicago
and he followed her there
but she was mad as hell
pretended she
didn’tknow him

so he teaches Spanish at
DePaul University
and he hates
every minute of it

he wants to give her a funeral
and a wake
a big fucking celebration
throw a fucking party

he’ll grieve for that woman
then he’ll bury her


he needs to tell this story
in the first person
want to cast
the narrator as a hero

that will draw the audience in
then he will
show her
unclaimed body on a
slab in the morgue

he will throw
a party
a big fucking celebration
throw open the doors

and bury her


I tried to forget that
was home once

it became a look out
the window

a rest stop on
the way to anywhere


because it isn’t the place
that matters
it is her lifeless face
laying on a slab that matters

the autopsy has already
been done
the medical examiner doesn’t
want him to see the body

he doesn’t know that he is an
unreliable narrator
misleading and
confusing his readers

it’s up to the readers
to fill in details
and it’s his problem
because the police find his
name in
her address book


maybe his father
comes from a solid reputable family
she is
from the country

but they still have to
meet somewhere
St. Louis University

in the College of Pharmacology

or maybe they are
high school sweethearts
he saves some
money and buys a store
joins the Elks

or maybe he runs for
political office
and loses
in a landslide

buries her underneath
the rubble


he knows a good haircut
brushes his shoes
wears an
undershirt and a belt

knows that pants always
have pleats
lapels are always notched
dress shirts don’t have button
down collars

but they always have

he keeps a rubbing stone
in his pocket
that smells like after shave

a mother of pearl button
reminds him
of his first haircut
his first pair of dress shoes
pancake breakfasts

a green felt baseball cap with
an embroidered logo
completely worn away

someone bought him a
chocolate malt
he sucked on the wooden
chewed it to splinters

wore a pair of white canvas
tennis shoes and
grey dungarees
blue jeans are uncouth

never pulled the flaps down
on his hunting cap
even when his ears were
bright red

always be ready with new
shoe laces
and saddle soap
don’t let other people
shine your shoes

don’t iron your own shirts
sew your own buttons
wear your club pins

fly the flag on holidays
and never
let it stay out in the rain
or after dark

take your hat off indoors
when you say the Lord’s Prayer
ask the Lord
to forgive our trespasses
not our debts

don’t bite your fingernails
never look messy
don’t wear
shoes with holes in them

keep your baseball mitt well oiled
don’t leave it
outside in the rain

they built a tree house
and a fort
in the
loft above the garage

learned to ride a shaky
old bicycle
before he got a real three speed
with a fat rear tire

he didn’t like the color
so they
sanded it down
painted it shiny blue

bought fruit flavored
tootsie rolls

wanted very much
to hold
a fifty cent piece
with President John F. Kennedy’s
face on it but he
never asked

he doesn’t know he is an
unreliable narrator
misleading and confusing
the readers
will have
to fill in the details


he stopped tucking in
his shirt tails
started wearing blue jeans
and worn out t-shirts

breaks into a run
a desperate
frantic dash to nowhere
in particular

and it’s his problem
because the police find his
name in
her address book

or maybe he packed up
a van and drove
to Brazil
opened a Mercedes dealership

and buried her under
the floorboards

© 2012 Matthew S. Barton