Home Bitter Poems mercy


Broken man, your fists, two blue sphinx

curled atop a frayed wool blanket

guarding what wastes beneath.


And still, that ruthless countenance

remembered from childhood…

your brute face

eyeing me with disdain.

Angry I was not cut closer to the bone,

sliver from the granite block

your heart veined.

Instead, taking after my mother

who wore your hand marks on the same dark places

I also learned to hide.

Quaking before the patriarch

for whom mercy was the crushing of moths

snatched from late night candles,

rubbed between forefinger and thumb.


Three years since my mother’s death

while I’ve been over twenty eight gone.

Unable to forgive as she did;

writing me once,

“his expressions have softened”

Could that have been true?

Or just her mind gone blank

before the sudden slip that took her.

A fall your stony silence made

all the more suspect.


And now, here I am

huddled next to your wasted flesh

crooked mouth, blinking eyes

blinded by the naked bulb

hung above this dayroom bed.


Thinking back to all those helpless moths

you claimed to have put out of misery.