o mama            mama
why did you put your nylons on
in front of me?

your legs moved
slowly                        seductively                 indifferently

all them cool and casual things
that throw the fishhook into flesh

“i dare you                        little puppet
not to fuck your balls off
the rest of your life
looking for me

go then among those sodoms
            & gomorrahs
those concrete deserts dying
those tawdry towers crumbling
and when you find
what you’re looking for
think of me”

my mama had great strong hands
— stronger than mine —
from twisting jar lids most of her life
while canning
peaches            pickles            sauerkraut            peas
the pressure cooker listed from its
            cargo of jam
biscuits grew like mushrooms
            in the oven

my mama had pride
she recovered completely after
            a stroke
refusing to listen to those scalliwags
with their black bags and engraved
who said she’d never walk again

she twisted their words into lies
with a flick of her wrists
and flipped their wheelchairs
over the backyard fence

o mama            mama
your stubborn pride
runs through my veins
like a bicycle chain

had you the grip on love
you had on jar lids

i would have dwelled in alfalfa fields

instead of sitting alone
in new york
wondering what i’m looking for