"It's about words, and words are all I have…"



My grandmother  the Polish one   From a town

that doesn’t exist anymore   Residents slaughtered

willy-nilly  1939-1945   This grandmother said  on a

freezing day circa 1985: Losing your mind is the worst

thing that can happen to a person   as we said good bye

pre  her annual Miami sojourn


She then gave me some intricate instructions re: prospective

deathbed visitors (these will go with me to my own grave)

The conversation weighed heavily  though I came to chalk it up

to her extreme eccentricity   Later that winter my father received

a call from  Sam   A man in her building we didn’t know  He said:

Your mother asked me to call   She doesn’t know where she is   

My father Lee brought her home a few days later


Tests showed an inoperable brain tumour  She was 86   It took several

months for her to lose her finemind   So  had it been a premonition or

an admission?  Perhaps already inklings of a fading database  +losing

a grip on memories   Farms  A speakeasy  An arranged marriage   Hard

patriarch father put a broom in her hand  and said:  Sweep!   Her mother

dead at 33    Mayo clinic couldn’t save her


4 younger children to raise   Now a slave   People took her lack of an easy

smile  personally   And when she died they found $4,000,000 in her

mattress   I have her exact feet  (don’t ask)  +a serious loathing for being

told what to do by any man  no matter his size or title  i.e., Dear Leader

I don’t walk around smiling either  but when I do  I have been told the Styx

begins to freeze over


In the end my grandmother was more animal  (not vegetable)  Crazed hand

signals  +mouthing words    And yet it moves   to paraphrase Galileo at his

heresy trial   One day in her room  I looked in the mirror at my 26 yr. old face

+for a split second didn’t know who I was   I wore red+black stripes  and was

about to begin my Master’s in Psychotherapy


There was also that time when I looked at husband #1’s young face  and for a

split second I didn’t know him   Premonitions or admissions?  Revelations or

devastations?  Voodoo bugaloo  Weird shit   Because it is simply true:  that one

day I would no longer know him  know him   And as for myself   the real me has

been under house arrest forever   continuing my scientific work  (again much like

Galileo  a genius with a flair for self promotion)  on freedom   on busting out   +leaving

you all  in my dust





*On Wednesday a TTC employee seeing that someone had jumped onto the tracks,

sat down and began talking to the man. He reminded him to breathe, and encouraged

him to say, I am strong, and got the crowd to recite it with him. He coaxed the man

back up onto the platform. It’s something we should all strive to do, everyday. 

(Globe+Mail editorial  TRANSIT HERO  June 2017)


Summer 2017      Go ahead.   Try it.

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2 thoughts on “HEAVEN

  1. Harman Atkins on said:

    Voodoo Bugaloo, Back off Bugaloo. Good poem, one for the Booba! Gallileo had nothing on you!

  2. M. Atkins on said:

    Go Boobie! How about when she shoveled snow at her house off Yonge St. when she was in her 80’s?

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