My grandmother was down to next to nothing
the last time I saw her, a still, stick figure
in a hospice bed. She was breathing fine,
in and out of morphine sleep. I was watching
a ballgame on the muted wall tv, wondering
if the Applebee’s next to my motel was open late.
Suddenly I saw her eyes were open and she said
softly but matter of factly, I slept with that bastard
Eugene O’Neill one time after auditions in Provinceton,
but he was so drunk nothing happened. I thought
he was going to make me a star .Then her eyes closed
and I took her hand, told her, That’s okay, Grandma,
and I hope that soothed her, but I’ll never know
if I said it in time.
Over My Dead Body
Screaming Mimi was my aunt’s professional name;
she was a stripper in Dallas in the 1960’s. One year
when I was a little kid, she brought her boss Jack Ruby
to our house for Thanksgiving. My mom seemed to like him,
at least more than most of Mimi’s other boyfriends back then,
but at the table during dessert he told a dirty joke real loud
right in front of me and my cousins about a traveling salesman
and a farmer’s daughter and nobody laughed except him.
It got real quiet until my mom asked if anybody wanted
another slice of pumpkin pie, said there was still plenty
of real whipped cream left.
A year later, after we watched him shoot Lee Harvey Oswald
on tv for the hundredth time, my dad grinned and said to mom,
Well, you can relax now. I guess you don’t have to worry
about your sister bringing him over for Thanksgiving again
next week. He’ll be here over my dead body, she replied,
sitting up straight in her chair. That filthy joke he told last year
really ruined my dessert.