peace be still.


The Help

she did not own her
own home but spent most weekdays
cleaning the homes of

folks who were wealthy

enough to pay others to
scrub their toilets

and wash their clothes. she
would make us take our shoes 

off at the front door

and walk sock-footed
across the marble kitchen
floor. They must really

be rich! I said as I

peeked into the cabinets
to find Fruit Loops and

Welch’s grape juice. The 

Fridge was filled with leftovers

Only seen in homes

Like this one: t-bone 

Steak, shrimp scampi, chocolate 

Mousse. But our lunch 

would always be what

She packed from home: country ham 

biscuits and lemon 

Cake, washed down with a 

Jar of sweet tea. By 3 she 

Would take the clothes from 

the outdoor clothesline

and iron them: white dress shirts 

Shiny black creased slacks 

even king sized sheets, 

washcloths, and bath towels. as 

the 5:00 news

began, she did one
last pass through the house, sweeping
every corner,

until she reached the

front door, where she got down on

her hands and knees to

confirm it’s gleam. no 

one will even see this!

said as she ran the 

duster into the
corner behind the door. Yes,

but I see, granddaughter,

she said. 

and you see

but above all, 

my God sees. 



What the war took but did not return

the day he returned to us
he had forgotten how long

he had actually been gone
his Levi jeans pleated and cuffed at the ankle
Newport cigarette box tucked into his left pocket

​by that time he had been away for 1 year
two weeks
and three days...

even the cars outside our window
reminded him of days spent face down
stealing breaths of dust and sand

his time away reduced this wall of a man
to a toddler
sleeping away entire days
telling his family “I’m okay”
knowing better,
but lying anyway

the look in his eyes
told the story of
many nights sleeping alongside
the bodies of his friends
many he had grown to depend upon
as bullets rained down
from the heavens above

they were courageous, strong
and not yet 21

for weeks we tiptoed around him
quietly offering cups of chamomile tea,
auntie's coffee with cream
anything to remind him of the man he used to be
praying for the day of his re-awakening
that never really came

he was not welcomed home from serving
with city parades and banners waving
what so proudly he gave
will never be returned to him

we did our part, his new command
creating our own pomp and circumstance
in the form of dancing the electric slide
and Friday night fish fries

anything to bring him back to us

anything to bring him back to us…..



Twenty-First Mourning

In time I am sure
I will re-learn the sounds of
our quiet home. You 

have not slept here for
weeks, I cannot conjure up
the courage to call.

It was my fault you
said, that last evening when
we sat on the floor

in our living room.
I assumed you to be the
naive one, didn’t

think you had in fact
seen it all. Knew everything-
the calls, what was said-

and instead of the
expected outburst of screams
broken dishes, torn 

clothing, knives tearing
holes in our rented sofa
you quietly wept,

for hours. This side
of you was new to me as
the tears fell, dotting

your pressed shirt and tie.
Your eyes welled, pleaded with
why? Never again

I promised, next time
I said- I’d think of you first
I’d think of us first

I knew I was cursed
even as a teenager/
wide hipped- wild girl- bred

from a long line of
other wide hipped-wild girls- who
never thought about

how those long nights hurt
the ones who loved them most. I
tried to ignore the

burn that settled in
my core-at age twenty one
I really tried to 

stay faithful. But it's
too late. You are gone. I will
find a new love like

you, who I will take
under my gentle wings and
sing my sweet song of

deception. But right
now, my soul yearns for the slow
subtle way you would

kiss me good morning.
I cannot sing just yet. Not
until I can forget

how you picked up your
suitcase from the floor, slamming
the door behind you.