All those nights I wanted John
to call. See how good? See
how really good I can quit you?
But he didn’t listen. Or call.
Just shows up in a dream last week
with the past slung over his shoulder,
Sinatra-style. This time’ll be
different. No fists. I fix him
dinner. We never get to eat.
When Mama phones next day,
she asks about my men,
rich ones, kind ones,
ones she might have dreamed
for herself on those nights
she faked sleep. Daddy came in,
tore her from the bed, shook her
upside down like a corn flake box.
Next day, the bruises, the flowers
stinking with other women.
But that was then.
Now, when Mama calls,
we talk of the good times.
Then, when she asks about my men,
I think of John, with nothing
to do all day but let gin click fine
down his throat. I think tonight
he might show up in a dream,
and even if I try to hide,
pull up the covers nice and tight,
he’ll just work himself through
like a big toe.
And me? I’ll be waiting there
to cook for him same as always,
and when Mama phones next day,
asks about my men, I’ll say
“kind, Mama. They are rich,
they are gentle, they are very, very kind.”
Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks, two flash fiction chapbooks, and the full-length poetry collections Café Crazy (Kelsay Books) and the forthcoming The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books). Her play, Love is a Bad Neighborhood, was produced in NYC this past December. She lives in NYC.