The 2River View 16.1 (Fall 2011)

Laura Jo Hess

Elegy to a Living Mother

Pity the rhododendrons didn't rise
from the dirt where a fence
sits     in segments     growing from earth

Today, I think I'll ask
the postman if he loves          his wife
and the waiter     if he's     ever cheated.

I'll unbind     and     watch
a letter flutter to the ground: Dear Luke,
I've got     to stop doing acid     on weekdays.

I've got to stop walking     so slowly     past
the psychic     who is really a     prostitute,
watching     her cross legs
                                        beside a     billboard.

I took a knife now and thought of the oven, I thought
     of the bedside

where you won't rest     your head

                    I stopped eating
& felt my body
                    go     mother     you'd be     proud

of     the                         way I'm breathing

          [one in at a time
          half out]

mother     you said     in this life

                                   don't leave     the     stove on

—the                           house


Things I'm Sorry For

Just today I preached about Texas—
roads I haven't seen and a bridge I won't cross
to a town I could never love. I sat close-kneed
on the train and listened to boys bang
tight-lipped canvas with their forefingers.
I watched a man stumble up a twenty
from the bottom of his pocket, crumple it
hard into the palm of the drummer.

Also, a confession: I don't love music
or sound or silence. Speakers tumble
a song I swayed and it played in the car
that one time my dad told me
he was getting married and I reached
my hand back from the front seat
and Jamie found my fingers
and I can't remember the last time
we touched and it meant something.

               So go on and gasp and love me less

when I like books better than sound,
when every note makes me cringe and recall
some memory, some head-down walk
round campus where I wound up weeping
under a tree and flipping open a cell phone
to dial my mother and say mom I'v e stolen
something, mother I've slept with someone,
mother I think I've died.

               Please, a fire, to warm my feet and please money

for the man with the bad voice singing subway songs
and the mime in times square, silver-faced and free.

Laura Jo Hess is from St. Louis, Missouri. After writing textbooks in Chicago for two years, she moved to New York City to pursue an MFA at The New School. Her work is published in Blue Mesa Review, decomP magazine, Margie Review , and The White Whale Review. contact