about my great-grandfather, who lost his wife and his sight in 1989, and died of Alzheimer’s in 1998


She was your life,

The woman who strained your gumbo

And bought you doughnuts

And argued with you every second.

So you shook your fist at God

And cursed him

When he took her.

She was your joy,

The little girl who sat on your lap

And shared your canned peaches

And sipped the beer you offered.

So you shook your fist at God

And cursed him

When he took her.

It was your freedom,

The sight that let you drive away

And escape everyone

And watch the fishing boats at night.

So you shook your fist at God

And cursed him

When he took it.

It was your enemy,

The memory that brought you pain

And revived the death, loss, and darkness

And wouldn’t let you forget your curses.

But you’ll lie in a bed

And never realize

That he took it.


Their names were Robert and Canary

Those two parakeets you bought me

Well you must remember them

And you built me a playhouse

It had a little screen door

Surely there’s some recollection

All those Rainbow Brite dolls

LaLa Orange and Twink and the rest

Twink was a sprite

You don’t know me

We dyed all those eggs every Easter

Dozens and dozens of them

Remember all those colors

You ate all those lady fingers

And boiled all those crawfish

You know your good barbecue sauce

I watched the Jeffersons with you

You gave me sips of beer

The Jeffersons made you laugh

You don’t know me

We sat on the swing every night

Ate those Pringles and peaches

Pears too if you recall

I wrote to you a lot when we moved

You took me to Mardi Gras

That was in fifth grade

You gave me heavy ziploc bags

They were full of quarters

Remember all those quarters

You don’t know me

I prayed for you every night

That God would open your eyes

Instead he empties your head

I wrote some stories about you

You would have liked them

You loved me once

I remember even if you don’t

I was your Elda Badon

You don’t know Elda

You knew me once


Open your mind before it’s empty,

Soften your heart before it’s cold;

Your blindness is not physical –

Your hate is your hell.

Don’t just lie there

And let your memories

Be emptied

Like your bakery boxes.

This world void of light

Can’t be blamed on a careless doctor;

You can’t feel your way

Along a web of strings.

Your anger can’t be cooled

Under a ceiling fan;

You can’t strain away your pain

And sip a thin broth of denial.

You can’t drive away from this –

A foot on the accelerator

Won’t be your salvation.

It’s a dead end, old man.

Turn around

Or stare at the wall.


You saw the headstone,

The cool marble that bore her name.

But you never saw her when you had her.

You could hear your family

Taking furniture from the house.

But you never listened to them before.

You know that your memories

Are slipping from your mind.

But you never wanted them anyway.


You’ll be all dressed up.

Your tattoo might be covered.

Your face will be serene;

They’ll plaster on a smile

And those vacant eyes,

So blue and distant,

Won’t bother anyone

From under your closed lids.

They’ll say nice things

And not mean a word.

The hands you clenched

At God and heaven

Will grasp a cross.

They might make you

Wear your teeth.