Monday, April 23, 2012


Years later he still was haunted by his mothers death, he remembered the night she died. May 28, or was it the 29th? Her dead yellow mutilated body twitching slightly vomit spittle collecting the corners of her mouth. his aunt Helen crying. 'ive killed her I sat there said Katherine your fought long enough, give up, it is over.' and like that the sickness left her body. years of pain, cancer growing in her body left. the disease killed itself. some one stopped a clock. he could only stand there.

his sister cried. 'shut up there is no reason to get hysterical' he snapped

fuck you she was my mother too I can cry

someone called the ambulance his Uncle bill took him for a ride, while the ambulance crew took her away outside was a clear endless spring sky ablaze with stars

see over there - Uncle bill pointed just over the two storey house to the left of the huge willow tree just a twig barely higher than a four year old boy once now towering and threatening, taller than the house - Venus and Jupiter in conjunction

the two planets fused into one bright spot of light

and into the car, a huge American car with three wiper speeds bill opened his door and dragged his 20 lb shoe across the floor of the car. bills left leg was noticeably shorter than his right. the result of an industrial accident. bill's leg was crushed between two RR cars.

the two drove - quietly or with short forgotten snippets of conversation they just drove ran some errands something he could not remember.

back home more cars had arrived. he walked into the kitchen his father and godfather, and some other family friends sat at the table drinking whiskey.

passing through the liveing room where the women were he dashed up the stairs tow at a time. at the top of the stairs he entered her room, where she had died where his aunt was changing the bed, straightening the room. the bed was empty, she was gone, already at the funeral home.

the room was still full of medical supplies the oxygen tank - used for her last days, she panicked when the mask was lowered onto her face - covering her nose and mouth - NO she screamed do not suffocate me - NO let me die my way.' liquid nourishment. the pump which filled her thigh with food the medicines call liquid to be injected, mixed with the food as her stomach had been partialy removed the drapes etc. all the care administered by him and his sister.

she was gone, nothing to say to his aunt.

he made his way down stairs he sat at the kitchen table with his dad and godfather bob. bob with the limp who at age 24 went on a week long toot woke up in jail in Rochester arrested for murder. freed when the real criminal was caught he hasn't had a drink since. now he reads kierkergaard japsers Unamuno - remarried in sadness and hated by his children.

bob sat and talked while he had a drink with his father. remember the 63 strike and we sat around all summer and watched the mets that year - god they were awful marvellous marv who could loss the ball in the sun on a grounder it was so hot that summer.

and he did not listen he just sat and stared. the doorbell rang his sister answered the door. it was is gf carol, he had planned to have dinner with her that night. she stood blonde and high school sad by the kitchen table. I heard I am sorry - I cooked us lasagna - he could hear the tears in her voice. 'she was real nice - I really liked her me and marylou ate some of the lasagna but we saved some for you and some Boston cream pie. my mom sends her condolences and her love'

thanks sorry I am no fun tonight

it is ok I understand I will go call me up tomorrow

he kissed her - I will

bye im sorry

so am I

he sat down again to eat the dinner carol had cooked for them carol was his high school love. she got sick on prom night - and they lost their virginity together on a cool fall afternoon behind the school after a Saturday afternoon of football and schnapps - the first woman he confessed to love.

he picked and played with his food alternating bite of pie with bites of pasta - eat your food like a normal person his father commanded

let him eat like he wants, who is he hurting bob said

he looked at his dad drunk again like always tall and lean his hair combed straight back pulling his lean face taunt his skin seemed to tight for his body his cheeks were hollow and his eye runny he could tell his dad had been crying drinking himself deeper into abyss of pain that was his life, his self his dad was pale the whitest white person in town which set off his dark rugged Irish workingman looks. black Irish and proud of it fierce blue eyes under the shock of black brows

he looked at the tattoos on his arm, a paratrooper descending his chute unopened his hand locked in prayer.

soon the house filled with people and he retreated to his room right next to hers where he had lived listening to her cries her moans the sounds of a slow death echoing his room.

the next three days came the wake and flowers and masses and cousins from Michigan NY Ohio Pennsylvania all across the industrial NE.

uncle Jacky who warned against disturbing good scotch with water or even ice

Wanda and frank with their huge tragic polish twelve children family

and Helen and rose and Josephine and Sophia and Stanley and all of the great bringing together of the family.

he stood unsmiling uncrying in the receiving line across 2 days and heard all the apologies and all the I-knew-your-mom-whens.

till bill and tom and Kevin and jimmy came by. then he cried great tears fell his face contorted he and his friends slipped away to have a smoke.

im sorry I cried so, it was just so nice of you to come by you did not have to he said

yeah we are just good guys said tom his racing buddy bragging buddy comparing fuck notes buddy soon to leave maybe to never to be seen by him again.

thanks again he said drawing back on a Marlboro to hid the Mary Jane scent - yeah man I did mean to carry on so it is just - that you were the first people I knew who came by

how are you doing Billy asked you need anything -

they were next door neighbours his best friend since third grade and they had lots between them talking about everything baseball all they wanted to do, all the beer they would drink all the first they would fuck as the grew up together.

and now everything had changed.

So polymathemagical Rachel/Paige; a friend of mine (an acquaintance, person I know, a colleague, a comrade, just a random person I occasionally run into?) organised a Cringefest at the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart. This was meant to include readings from old teenage diaries.

So being as vain as the next poet, I thought I would go along. Plus I thought it was a very cool idea, and I am always open to new ways to do art. Sadly due to work and family commitments I could not get to the reading until late.

If the idea was to find cringe worthy diary entires, I feel this as good as any. It is something I wrote at a very young age. I did not really make diaries in the sense of a day to day discussion of what has happened and my feelings. I wrote at that time something that may be better called journals. And this was one of only a few things I wrote about the death of my mother. I was only 17 when she died, and this event hit me pretty hard. The reading of this long ago diary entry is doubly cringe worthy because of the 'heavy' subject matter, and of course the less than deft way I handled the material. But I was only 18 or so, and back then I was much more green than I was cabbage looking.

I typed it up as the original book is a bit fragile, and the weather in Tasmania is always a lottery. Tidied up the spelling mistakes, but not so much the grammar errors. I did not add or subtract anything from the initial rush of crappiness. So thanks for indulging me and my addition to the cringe fest.

The art works are from the diary. Things were different in 1978.

1 comment:

Ian Milliss said...

I don't see why you would find that cringey, it seems simple and straightforward and (perhaps unintentionally) gives a very good sense of the sort of shock you go into when grief hits.