Tony Gloeggler: “For Mom”

For Mom

The brother who gave me a kidney
for my transplant sent me an email 
telling me not to wear my filthy
Yankee cap to mom’s funeral
out of respect for my mother. 
Mom knew how I felt and we grew 
closer while I helped take care 
of her the nine months before 
she died. Besides, she’d hardly 
notice lying in her closed casket 
and if she did, she’d laugh, shake 
her head and pull me in with her 
for a hug, ask if Judge homered 
in last night’s west coast game 
against the Angels. Jaime was a baby 
when Dad wanted to kick me out 
of the house for hair hanging past 
my shoulders and mom kept yelling, 
over my dead body, until the next door 
neighbors, the ones my other brother 
named The Gruesome’s to rhyme 
with Newsome, threatened to call 
the cops and Dad told them to mind 
their own friggin’ business and forgot 
all about my hair, me. Jaime never 
could guess how much it meant 
that mom kept asking about my writing, 
the only one in the family who read 
my poems and never asked why 
I wrote that or told me not to write
this, sometimes reminding me 
she was the one who taught me 
to read, leaning into her arms, 
my leg in its brace, laid flat across 
the couch when I couldn’t go 
out and play with the other kids 
who sometimes called me names, 
her finger underlining letters, 
pointing out words, making me 
repeat sounds, and though she only 
met Jesse, the severely autistic son 
of the woman I briefly lived with 
three, four, times at holiday dinners, 
she always wanted to know everything 
about him, delighted to hear he spent 
his weekend skiing or climbing on every 
roller coaster, every whirling scary ride 
at the summer fair, not like you Anthony, 
laughing again when I nodded yeah, 
Jesse still loves ripping books into piles 
of thin paper slices, orders chicken fingers, 
French fries extra hot any time we eat out, 
and then she made me promise to take
care of that kid, now a man, good.

About the Author: Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of NYC and managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 40 years. His work has appeared in Rattle, New Ohio Review, Book Of Matches, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy. His most recent book, What Kind Of Man with NYQ Books, was a finalist for the 2021 Paterson Poetry Prize and long listed for Jacar Press’ Julie Suk Award.  

Image Credit: Édouard Vuillard “The Artist’s Mother Opening a Door” (1886) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee.

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