This was the Christmas I rented a motel room for the crippled whore. A space where she had
48 hours to drink, shower, and regret. This was the Christmas I drank twenty beers and drove
my car to Shepherdsville and back. This was the Christmas I threw up into the bathtub, then
crawled into work, where I re-hospitalized a violent schizophrenic and helped issue an
emergency protective order to keep an ugly man from his children. This was the Christmas I
prayed for luck to overtake me, when I flattened out like a weary racehorse in deep stretch, when
the windows threw red shadows and I only had a little dog named Scooter to comfort me. This
was the Christmas when my last possessions were taken away.
I remember you touched by holier hands
than mine and leaning into that void of
helplessness, your brown eyes scared with
the realization of who you were not and
what you were not becoming. Your hands
would clutch at any icon: The crucifix,
the phallus, the bottle of mad misery
you poured yourself into, always hoping
for relief, wishing for a cure some magic
to change you from poor desperate creature
wash your insides bleach your heart put
back the broken and empty pieces and make
you clean and whole again your hourglass
refilled your high school yearbook face
unlined sixteen years old before everything
went away leaving cold night increased
gravity gut a wet mop inside twisted
wringing wet and always slowly unwinding.
I remember you sad and proper, reminding yourself
not to beg when the scraps were yours to keep.
Robert L. Penick has had work appear in over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American Review, and The Antietam Review. He lives in Louisville, KY, with my free-range box turtle, Sheldon.
Glenn Bowie is a published poet, lyricist and photographer from the Boston area. He also owns and operates an elevator company that supplies custom-built elevators for clients from New England to Hollywood. Author of two poetry and photograph collections (Under the Weight of Whispers and Into the Thorns and Honey) on Big Table Publishing, he donates all profits from his books to various charities for the homeless and local animal shelters. Glenn is also the official photographer for the Newton Writing and Publishing Center.