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We Spend More Time Speaking than Writing in Class

Paul Haeder: throwing bones, Rebecca takes Damon’s skeleton, Rebecca like a moon child, hormones like Mount St. Helen’s eruption, she’s empath, Damon’s light years ahead
Homeless Camp

For the veterans homeless shelter writing group dedicated to stories

she feels that baby
ghost of cancer
simple ovary, tiny snail
this baby is 22 months inside
eating at her womb
breasts like sixty-pound gourds
milk for the cancer, the big C
ugly like Grendel, claws
even, forehead like burning bush
her heart, my heart, he wants
me, “I’ve never felt
this much pain in
my life” but for
my mom, last breath in my
hand, last mother
moment, she’d say, “take this
shit and chill out” she’d
go out and score opium
pills, my mom the gangster
Jenny thinks, her father
a pimp, her mom’s mom
church-going praying
to sweet Jesus for humility
all those crack-smoking kids
she’d rub Wesson oil all
over, she had eight kids,
me one of thirty-two grandchildren
Jenny says, “you motherfucker”

throwing bones, Rebecca takes
Damon’s skeleton, Rebecca
like a moon child,
hormones like Mount St.
Helen’s eruption, she’s
empath, Damon’s light
years ahead, Ron and Shirley
dead bodies hovering
she looks at twin boys, man,
white noise Damon has, David lesser
of evils, higher levels of
learning, Damon brays
he’s in heaven Rebecca

old man Ron sees relatives
at door, telling him stay
Shirley culls her out-of-body
time, saying it wasn’t her time
a chorus, as her children
call it weird
children of a lesser god
fear death, but
Damon hears thoughts
gets questions before asked
dances with eyes,
sister-in-law not buying it
drugs, man, mangling minds
Jenny don’t need no stinkin’
badge to see old man David
looking for glass, bottle, Jonesing
for ethanol, Rebecca dances

away while Jenny reads Shirley’s
story of child Leonard
his sister marrow donor
three years old scoops
up bone, instant cellular
connection, fifteen days vanished
life of Leonard, yet David is wondering
what side of twin
Damon is, dark or inter-planetary, lost
in space, Jenny says it’s meth, more
jumbled brain cells, more
rationalization, yet she cries
inside, Rebecca cries outside
Shirley holds tears as reckoning
as Ron is the jumble
emotions, amazed almost
a curtain is pulled
as old social worker
ebbs and flows
with moon, the sun
more his talisman
than any Mars, yet

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Damon is getting
at a higher plane of consciousness
pugilism, some war
holding his man
hood, his twin folding
inside, brother in noose
wife Jenny like a burning
orb, inside, him,
but today they
hold a séance, divine
sanity out of insanity
birth to pain
a tomorrow comes

and goes, as Ron, moves
cigarette butts
sweeps leaves
picks up dog
shit pulls weeds
and one day we will
feel that same yanking
the pull as Ron
dances inside Parkinson’s
as memory folds into
Damon, or pain, history
vanishing like desert clouds

David hoping
humanity listens to twins
Rebecca spills her love
of weddings, Shirley ministers
red neck wedding, David
floats, and anchors
as Jenny goes
back to granny, Christian
rubbing Jesus crucifix
into flames, glistening
granddaughter now
as fire, and we all see

a tide advancing, into
sky, and we finish
wish for nothing
old, as Alex says he’s
clean, HIV clean, a new life
and we all breathe together
a breath from below, deep inside
each of us, our private chambers
shared as we laugh at angels


Paul Haeder

**note: all names have been changed to protect privacy