Poems for My Mother

Like a great many human beings, I appreciate my mother more as I grow older. Like another great many human beings, Peg Howard wasn't perfect. She was an extreme variety of manic depressive: she would fly into towering rages that left marks on every house we lived in, even on the ceilings; she would get bizarre obsessions, see demons coming in through the walls, write for days at a stretch while we learned to fix our own meals. At other times, she was a wise, compassionate woman who taught me a wider breadth of human culture and human insight than I ever realized I was absorbing.

She also taught me courage. The courage to keep on going even when your own body and mind fail you and reality falls out from under you. Eventually, Mother was diagnosed and won some stability in her life. In her last few years, we were able to win some reconciliation.

These are the poems I have written about Mother over the last few years:

Mother Escapes
Mother of Dragons

This is a poem my mother wrote many years before she died:

Why I Have Not Committed Suicide

The Devil sat me down to lunch
In a little crimson room.
He fed me on tea brewed of fresh hot tears
and cakes baked of violet gloom.

The tea was bitter and the cakes were hard
And I sweated from every pore
But better such bitter fare I said
Than the cold outside that door.

Yes better the devil's crimson room
And the Devil's crimson laughter,
Than the awful cold outside that door
And silence, forever after.

Graphic Version

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