Deaths in the Family

Laughing is one way of approaching sorrow.  I confess I felt no sorrow at my parents’ deaths.  In each case, it came in its own time, not theirs.  And “about time” was my reaction.  My emotional relationship with my parents was always problematic.  Anyway.  Sitting on the can at Starbucks, I was reminded of my father’s death, and my mother’s, and how each was attended by a kind of grotesqueness.

My father died in the bathroom,

Not, unfortunately,

Sitting on the can,

His soul taking leave,

During a last squat.

No, no, not that, although

It would have made

A great story

To be passed on

During some conversational lull.

He sat on a stool


Death took its time.

As my mother came in,

Wondering why he had not emerged,

He floated to the floor,

Without so much as a goodbye.

Just like him.


The last time I saw my mother,

I had come to pick up her things,

Bric-brac, pictures of family

She had long ago failed to recognize,

Gadgets, books, a crucifix, so,

Imagine my surprise!

She was in rigor mortis, right there

In her bed, lying as if in state,

At the Sidney Care Home,

Her eyes wide open,

Her mouth gaping wide,

As if in astonishment,

As if about to say,

As she never would have in life,

“Holy fuck!

I never expected this!”


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