Christmas at my Mother’s House

Here at my mother’s house my
family celebrates a holiday
not their own.

Christmas belongs to my childhood
Years of spindly trees
and silver tinsel
put up Christmas eve
before midnight mass.

The Sears catalog dogeared
was my bible those days
hair in pin curls – flannel p.j.’s
I lovingly picked out my Christmas treasures

Perfect memory unclouded by knowledge,
childhood remembered mine will never know.


Damaged family
Well dressed with shadowed eyes
Gifts purchased without the knowledge of the season
languish in shopping bags
and my hands so tired wrap
only the suggestion of bows.

Copyright JAC 1996

Father’s Day

Memory in grainy photograph
my troubled face
turned from your embrace
Daddy. I was four.

Daddy, washing the car,
a summer day caught there on film.
What do I remember anyway of that embrace
Or any other gesture in the years I grew from childhood to imperfection
and rebellion.
Fragments, only fragments, broken and chipped
Words and looks that define me still decades later as I look in the mirror
Only to see what is not perfect.

The word itself a too tight coat over a body loathed
No clothing kind enough to ease the pain of being me.
The seams still cut, the sleeves constrict, the buttons threaten to give way.
I am here still in some forgotten photograph looking to you
For mercy.

Daddy, tailor of my self esteem.
Please forgive me.

Copyright JAC June 10, 1997

Fuck Mother Theresa

Not literally
or figuratively.
I am not the
hard, cold, self centered
bitch your ex-lover
thinks I am.

Jealous heat suffused
our conversation
I didn’t know what perfidy
lurked in the heart of man.
It wasn’t you
It was the collective male consciousness
bearing your warrior burden that
bedded her that night.

Easier to forgive a concept
as I make your mistake
the mythical burden of
your gender as expressed by
my man, written out
painstakingly long hand
on a three by five card
tossed in the trash.

Come home, all is forgiven.
Copyright JAC 1996


Poetry leaves with poverty
changing form the moment her toe crosses into his world.
Silk garments now gray (how fast the transformation) bear witness to her loss.
No gloves – her hands chap and roughen – nails break.

No tender caress for the lover’s cheek; her every touch draws blood.

Still – she thinks
I have my dignity.

A mirror catches her eye.
She marvels at the disheveled stranger there, recognition
she looks away – face red with shame.
All the pretty words dry up in her mouth.
Tasting vomit she stays silent.

Copyright JAC 2007


for Wendy

Only memory permitted now
The sweet color and texture of words removed
From daily life.

Rising from memory azure colored words
Bind with golden phrases unearthed
Emotion creates a fragile parchment
Lovingly folded within my mind.
Copyright JAC 1996


I know how war starts
the hot explosion of anger deep from under your heart
fire burning in your throat
obliterating reason and memory
feeding on air blasting from the darkest shadows of the past
breathing fumes of pain
burn up the cold mother
burn up the fear
burn up the pain coiled deep within your blood all these years
beating unrelenting hatred of self and life.

One fire ignited is tragic.
Two fires burn away conscience and leave a boy
crucified on a fence.
Three beat a man to death.
Four fires ignited pull the conscience from otherwise honorable men
And with flashlights and fists and hatred
They will try to avenge their darkness.

A Nation’s anger ignited is the fuel of war .
The gestapo boot on a woman’s chest.
The gas in the crematorium.
The baby slit from his mother’s belly
Dying in the Congo.
Hiroshima evaporated.

War is hatred.
Anger burning so white hot it extinguishes
light and reason and life
Leaving only shadows of pain coiled up in the blood of a Nation
beating unrelenting hatred of self and life.

Copyright JAC 1998


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: His Insouciant Smile « Five Husbands

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