Tuesday, July 27, 2010

poemS of the day 07.27.10

my grandmother would've been 83 today. she was a tough lady.
in celebration, here are 2 old poems that are about her.


grandmother

i watched her breathing heavily
on her death bed that gave her bloody sores
on her back and legs
the bed i’d be given after it was all over
her voice gone, never to utter a word again
eyes forever shut to this world
but still that breathing, guttural, quick, hard
like she’d run a marathon
gambling with her god
and did she like to gamble?
remember the yellow calendars covered in lottery numbers.
remember the bookies stopping by for a beer.
in the bars she gave my brother and i
lance’s cheese crackers and flat coca-cola
a stack of quarters to play the video poker machine
the one that paid under the table
and if we hit we were paid off with packs of baseball cards
and milky ways in order to keep it quiet
but it all would be gone now, grandmother
hard breaths
salt in the beer
salt by your nightstand that played talk radio all night
salt in the cancer
salt on everything
and i decided right then and there
as you took those fast, fleeting breaths
not to cry at your funeral
thinking maybe you wouldn’t want it that way
because you were always a hard broad from pittsburgh
born to die there
and then i left you to drive three hours to akron
to see bob dylan
leaving like a rolling stone
saying it’s all over now, baby blue
a carton of cigarettes in the front seat between me and joel
and the counting crows in the tape deck
i had no clue then that i’d never hear you breath again
how can one gauge that?
and i didn’t cry grandmother, not then,
but i’ve done it so many times since
that i keep wondering when the well is going to dry
and you’re going to quit haunting each bar
i take my secret, heavy steps into, thinking the answers
are there, right on the next barstool, waiting. 09.01.09



helen mcintyre

my grandmother was
tough as nails
man
and she had a voice
soaked in whisky.
she put up with a lot
of shit
from my grandfather
from alcohol
to ignorance.
she was born in pittsburgh
and she died
in pittsburgh.
cancer got her three times
before it took her
for good.
she was the first person
i ever
watched
die.
comatose, she said
nothing
but breathed heavily
and clutched the rosary
my mother gave her,
tired,
but still fighting for
the shred of life
she’d had given to her
from someone’s unjust
god,
a tough lady
to the very end,
which is more than
i can say for those
of you reading
this poem.

07.27.06

6 comments:

Bukowski's Basement said...

wonderful tributes, John...

Craig said...

Good stuff brother... I loved her so much and never cried at her funeral either... That pisses me off to this day

Craig said...

Great stuff jay.... I never cried at her funeral and it always bothers me

Craig said...

Great stuff jay ... I never cried at her funeral either... That pisses me off

John Grochalski said...

anthony...as always, thank you.

craig...i seem to get drunk and misty over her quite a bit since then.

Fatuous Anility said...

Very poignant!