“Hearts Break All the Time” By Jeanette Powers

 

 

Hearts Break All the Time

I remember the gnarled hands
of my grandfather
working the rotary dial
of the old goldenrod yellow
Ma Bell telephone
calling the hospital
where my grandmother lay
waiting to have her chest cracked
for a double bypass

heartbreak was not new to her

I hung my fingertips
on the tall bureau with the phone
and the lazy susan with her fake pearls
watching him talk and listening
I love you, Helen
I’d never heard him say that before
tears fell down through the stubble of his cheeks
they were the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen

his hand always trembled for a cigarette
and it did then too

they are decades gone now
just like land lines and my youth

the doctor is earnest
reading my genome results
tells me I can’t absorb folic acid
or Vitamin D, my liver is weak
and that no matter how healthy I am
a heart attack is sure

I’ve already had several
I assure her with a smile

she doesn’t laugh
but I’m hoping I’m just like my grandmother.

 

About the Author: Jeanette Powers: poet, painter, philosopher, professional party dancer and working class, anarchist, non-binary queer. Here to be radically peaceful, they are a founding member of Kansas City’s annual small press poetry fest, FountainVerse. Powers is also the brawn behind Stubborn Mule Press. They have seven full length poetry books and have been published often online and  print journals. Find more at jeanettepowers.com and @novel_cliche

 

More By Jeanette Powers:

Reflections in the Windows of Your First Car

Cycles of Grief Go On And On

“Cycles of Grief Go On and On” By Jeanette Powers

 

 

Cycles of Grief Go On and On

In no good world is it right
for a mother to leave behind
two young boys when she dies
or for the family to fight
over her crumbs, her car
the paint by number of a white horse
the hand-painted sculpture
of a monkey, hanging
from a real rope
the raining oil lamp
with the naked woman inside
there’s no justice
in fighting over her wedding ring
while those two boys
sit in pews praying
for their mom.

There is no kindness in giving
your queer granddaughter
a bible for graduation
after fifteen years of her
hiding behind the pulpit
knowing she can’t be baptized
into the faith of her family
and cutting off her college fund
when she’s caught red-handed
with a woman at the movie theater
then sending her out into the world
without a safety net
unable to pray without
remembering being cast away.

For the abandoned
it feels like everyone
is beating on them for their whole lives
and they are the only ones paying the price
it seems like everyone
is just getting away with so much cruelty
dressed up as the Christian thing to do
and we, abandoned through grief,
loss, through being different
find our own solace
and too often in razor blades,
another dozen bottles
always bashing our heads
in prayer against a wall
we can’t find our way out from behind.

Are we raising a generation
of hungry ghosts, sleeping
with clenched fists, ready to punch back
at first waking, unable to be given
an apology they can hear
every reason just an excuse
always believing everyone
is going to be right at our throats
the second we show our self
our rage an impacted tooth
our memory a suppurating ulcer
the only cheek turned, always our own?

 

About the Author: Jeanette Powers: poet, painter, philosopher, professional party dancer and working class, anarchist, non-binary queer. Here to be radically peaceful, they are a founding member of Kansas City’s annual small press poetry fest, FountainVerse. Powers is also the brawn behind Stubborn Mule Press. They have seven full length poetry books and have been published often online and  print journals. Find more at jeanettepowers.com and @novel_cliche

 

More By Jeanette Powers:

Reflections in the Windows of Your First Car

 

Image Credit: Karl Blossfeldt “Dipsacus laciniatus” (1928) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

“Reflections in the Windows of Your First Car” by Jeanette Powers

 

 

Reflections in the Windows of Your First Car

With my first driver’s license
and the 5-speed shifter
of a gold 1984 Plymouth Turismo
gripped in my hands
I drove out of the suburbs
and into the big city
knowing nowhere to go.

Grinding gears through Raytown
passing the long sewer of Brush Creek
I found myself in Midtown Kansas City
took a left on 39th Street from Main
and flashing lights pulled me
into the bank parking lot
immediately.

I didn’t know what to do
when justice is demanded
I popped out of the car
and just began to beg
it’s my first day driving
my mom will kill me
I promise it won’t happen again.

Then I catch a glimpse of myself
in the reflection of the window
and see my face covered
in armadillo stamps
from goofing around
with Sam after school,
who we, of course, all called Scooby.

My heart falls out, because I think
no one looking so foolish
will ever get out of anything
could never be taken seriously
and I surrender myself to my fate
look the officer straight in the eye
and just say, I’m sorry.

He pats me on the shoulder
and laughs, be more careful next time
and drives away, I watched that man
choose mercy over justice
two decades later, I still think of him
and the power of an honest apology
every nowhere I go.

 

About the Author: Jeanette Powers: poet, painter, philosopher, professional party dancer and working class, anarchist, non-binary queer. Here to be radically peaceful, they are a founding member of Kansas City’s annual small press poetry fest, FountainVerse. Powers is also the brawn behind Stubborn Mule Press. They have seven full length poetry books and have been published often online and  print journals. Find more at jeanettepowers.com and @novel_cliche

 

Image Credit: Ruby T. Lomax “Woman Sitting in Car, Texas” (1937) The Library of Congress