Your invitation has been rescinded—

no justice

inside a.m.

Name stricken from the guest list just this


cos you don’t have a thing to wear.

My daughter asked me to email her the wedding guest list so she and her fiancé can finalize the count, and begin mailing invitations. I looked it over this morning to make sure I wasn’t missing anyone before hitting send.

I was missing someone.

I highlighted my mother’s name and address. And I cried. I hit delete. And I cried.

I cried yesterday, too. Nicole had selected the most beautiful wedding dress—she looks like an absolute doll in it. I took loads of photos of her standing on the pedestal before a three-way mirror. I was so excited, I attached the images to a text message.

Then I remembered my mother wouldn’t receive them.



B & W

I dreamt you were a naked doll, sized true-to-life. You were assembled like the art manikin I use for sketching, only your head was your actual head—your face was arranged in a placid expression. A random little girl had fished you out of a cold river, and I snatched you from her greedy arms as she was celebrating her catch.

“She’s too big for you,” I cried. Cradling you, I carried you away from the shore lowly lit by a dull sun, and into the damp grey woods. I was chased by faceless men who wanted you, and I heard the little girl lamenting. “Fuck you! She’s mine,” I kept yelling. “You can’t have my mother!”

Then you were alive, penned in a clearing. You were dressed in a red shirt, and faded blue jeans. I couldn’t make out the silent words rushing from your mouth. I could only pay attention to the man with a sword. You were murdered in front of me. I saw the long blade enter you through your back—through your thoracic spine.

The death scene repeated like cruelly spliced film. I watched your face fade away and reappear again and again, for an immeasurable space of time, until the phone began to ring.

Stood in the driveway of our house in Lapeer, I kicked at the loose stones, waiting for the ringing to stop.

“It’s for you,” said someone lounging in the bed of a pick-up truck. An unrecognizable guy with long, dirty blond hair. I took the tan receiver, and pressed it against my aching head.

“Mom.” I knew it was you. And I knew you were dead. I know you are dead. “I love you. I miss you so much, Mom.”

There was a long, crackling silence. Then you said, “I think of you all the time.”


(image: Freepik)

Something happens, and I am reminded that

all of the good words have been taken by the 80s.

I can’t write you a heavy synth song, penned in black kohl;

can’t dip my heart into inderivative hair dye—

there’s no such thing, really.


Something happens, and I am reminded that

I can’t call you.


Something happens, and I am reminded that

I can’t hug you.


Something happens, and I remember that

I’d forgotten to miss you for 5 whole fucking minutes.


There are 300 seconds in 5 fucking minutes, and 3,600 seconds in 1 hour, which means there are 86,400 seconds in 24 hours, or 1,440 fucking minutes in a goddamned day, which means there’s a lot of fucking time spent forgetting to remember that you’re dead.


And I can’t even manage to write you a love song.





You were goddamned gorgeous, and a fucking conundrum, my mother. When I think of all the men in your life who’d tried to solve your riddles, I laugh. The relics of those men inhabit a corner in the catacombs of my heart. I don’t want them, but each one retains a precious part of you, so there they shall remain. Yes, I’ll keep those tokens to remind me that I never want to be like you—insecure.

You’d always believed you required a man’s love in order to be completely happy. From the depths of my being, I am so sorry you’d lived your life on the cusp of a chasm so black. I wish you had known your true self through the eyes of your daughters; and I don’t understand why Tara and I weren’t reasons enough for you to be content.

I’m angry tonight—angry about your failures as a mother. And I’m pissed off at myself for even thinking about all of the men you’d put in front of me and my sister. You’re fucking dead—anger is a waste of my energy. What kills me is that I’d believed this shit was behind me. I’d forgiven you a long time ago. So why am I reflecting on my adolescence all over again?

Maybe forgiveness is infinitely intermittent, and real acceptance is bullshit.




I find solace in the frightening night, when the silence is amplified, and I am alone; I can hear my heart beating, and this war drum reminds me that I still breathe. My shadow is cast—hurled against dead buildings. I smile, because for a moment, I am Colossus. I make like a conqueror, and stomp my winter feet—the tantrum ricochets, scaring up phantoms that bellow in the moonlight.

I smile, because for a moment, I am Colossus, untouchable.



I’ve written the word grief so many times now, it appears to me to be misspelled–not even misspelled, but a term invented by an imagination most dark. I wish I could detail the profundity of my grief–of my sister’s grief–because I swear on everything deemed holy, if I have to defend myself, and my sister, one more goddamned time, I’m going to come unglued, and bust up this motherfucking house. And Tara’s house, too, for fuck’s sake.

I’m one more cliché away from shattering teeth. “Buck up” is not an appropriate reaction to anyone who is mourning. For real, what in the nine circles of hell is wrong with you? I can tell you–you’ve not yet experienced this level of utter absence, yet you’re so secure with how you’d handle your shit, you believe you have some sort of stunning immunity to the potent taste of black abyss.

Well, listen here–it’s confident pricks like you who end up lost in the fog of tragedy. Tara and I, we acknowledge our need for help. So maybe “bucking up” fits. Not by your definition…but I don’t give one fuck about your definition of taking responsibility of oneself.

You praise me for my strengths without mentioning my frailties. My frailties make up the biggest parts of my strength. How can one be truly strong without that which they must overcome?

This level of mourning is none like you’ve ever had to see me through before…and I know you loved my mother. You mourned her, and now you seem to be done with all of that sad business. But goddamn it, there is no box big enough for me to stuff my feelings into, and no time table of grieving laid out for me. Shit! When you come in from work, and find me crying while holding a photograph of my mother, don’t ask me why I’m sad! Fucking duh!

I refuse to pretend I’m okay. And I defend my sister’s feelings, too.

Don’t make this a choice for me.

You’ll lose.
















You come to me often, and I can’t take it—seeing your Cheshire smile, and glittering eyes. I’d thought dreams of you would bring me peace, but those visions of you animated, and the dulcet tones of your voice, well-remembered, bouncing against the walls of my skull only cause me agony. I hold a wake with a devastated ribcage, fractured from the distension of a lamenting heart—my heart, it heaves, weeping tears of its own, crimson.


The anguish of mourning is transcendental; and necessary in the process of healing. Booze is something else that’s necessary, though arguably. My mother was a legit alcoholic, perpetually grieving. And she smoked a lot—the cheap mentholated cigarettes with the most pungent odor. She always smelled like fresh cut flowers that had been dusted with baby powder, then bundled up and tied with twine to hang dry from the sticky ceiling of an off-road dive bar.

What do I know about bars—particularly the dive variety? More than I had ever wanted my mother to know that I know. She would have been sad to learn I’m a perpetual griever. I sincerely trust she lived her life believing I was bright yellow as a full sun.

Now, my mother is dead. She’s dead, and I have never before felt my soul twisting around itself so goddamned tightly. To mourn my mother is to feel actual, inexplicable pain. I can’t get drunk enough to go numb; only stupid enough to pass out at my computer desk after I’ve written some crazy enlightened bullshit that only a griever high as all fuck could begin to understand, and appreciate.

I’m so full of shit soaked vodka, I wish someone would haul off and punch me in the face. Preferably when I’m fucking blotto, so it won’t hurt too much—until I wake up the following afternoon.

To mourn my mother is to self-loathe. I could have loved her better. She’s dead, and I’m a knapsack full of dicks and hindsight.