Mother, I have come home from the war
temporarily. Accepting my losses like a good soldier,
picking the scabs from my wounds.
In the field among smoke I murdered
many men for you. The first to go was your
father. I put rose petals in his mouth to cover
the stench of whiskey, then bound his hands with
our tears and poverty.
I cut off the blood circulation to
his manhood, and watched it turn
as black as your childhood.
Then I laughed and smoked a cigarette, told God
I could never be like Jesus.
When I go back, I shall have Shakespeare and
Rossetti by my side. They are ancient heroes
and trust no one.
The good girls in rainbow-colored
glass houses have invited a dump-
truck full of stones into their yards.
Their arms are ready to take aim
at these words & massacre the
dark in me, turn my eyes to pulp.
The good girls have so many
good things to say & are ready
for murder. Their clean smiles
are brimming with scripture &
gossip, full of holy sabotage.
Their teacups are full of godly
images & successful families &
careers & their notebooks have
LOVE LOVE LOVE scribbled down
in crayon. Their notebooks
never mention their children
out of wedlock, that threesome
they had 2 years ago, their flasks
of booze or how the words FUCK
FUCK FUCK coarse through their
veins all day. The good girls are
eloquent liars whose lips give
silver kisses & pretty petals
at church & in business meetings
while the rest of the world wails
& waits for redemption.
The good girls hide their thorns
among hands full of lilies & they
are bringing gifts of gold, of
frankincense, of myrrh, straight
down to Lucifer. & Christ, how
they make Christ & me weep,
turn toward the forest & run
down into the valley to flee
their stones, their nails, their
I am back at work,
While you stand near rising cedars painting
the cool colors of clouds-
And your blood count no longer matters.
It’s as if your smile
is climbing toward the sun you hoped
to someday see in Sultan.
I remember your hazy eyes, the way
they floated across the room,
like dark blue petals on the wind.
And who could ever say
what it was that kept you sighing-
Maybe you argued with God
so much that it drained your energies
And left you afraid, wondering
if the tavern would sing loud,
Guzzle beer in memory
of a man they never really knew.
But me, I am amazed to guess
that the Northern rains that fall,
must filter through your lurid hands.
It makes me want to stoop down,
turn my fingers to cups,
drink from these puddles
in your honor.
Heather Lenz is a poet and amateur artist who was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest just outside of Seattle, Washington and now reside in North Carolina. In the past her work has been published in both print and online publications with work upcoming in Calliope Nerve, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Dope Magazine and Like A Fat Gold Watch. Heather is currently a poetry editor for First Step Press Online, which publishes both Stepping Stones Magazine and Crimson Rivers Magazine.