George Perreault, Featured Author

The Last Time I Talked to My Mom

 

She’d flown to Florida just to die, not that slow-

motion movie crammed with insights and coming-

to-terms, me on the edge of the plains hearing how

one brother and his wife went bedside, sang their

newest version of psalm twenty-three, another one

praying sweet Jesus how can I compete with that,

so you can see why she flew away.

 

She’d hired a cab to the hospital, told them, it being

the South, she was fixing to die, told me these doctors

they’re whispering cancer as if I can’t read the seven

signs, and they want to try chemo, as if that’s going

to happen, and anyway it was good to hear but I’m

going now and she just let the phone drop, so I

listened to her breathe for a while.

 

They called soon enough, saying it was a stroke –

that stubborn old lady, dying as she pleased.

 

 

 

Sometimes, She Says

 

It was my kid asking me and more than once,

so after she was killed, I decided just to quit,

though it was hard, having smoked for years,

and I loved it, I did, maybe out on the porch

a fall afternoon, someone burning leaves two

streets over, a high hint in the cool air, early

 

moon above the hills, or after sex sometimes,

like in the movies, where you’re the heroine

if not in this story, then another, wondering

how it might go, this whatever seems to be

happening here – cigarette moments to

ornament a tree with a little history, but

 

my daughter asks again and there’s a crash

that makes her brain swell into a thunderhead

soaking up ocean till it rains itself away, so I

tell myself, just stop, each time you choose

not to is a kind of prayer, and keeping that

it’s like lighting candles in a church, so

 

maybe it counts – only, sometimes on a street

a match will flare as another’s smoke whispers

of distant laughter, and yes envy and still the

anger over everything that’s lost, and is it lust

or deadly greed infiltrating my breath – this

banished pleasure, this near occasion of sin?

 

George Perreault

 

George Perreault is from Reno, Nevada, and his most recent collection, Bodark County, features poems in the voices of characters living on the Llano Estacado. He has received awards from the Nevada Arts Council and the Washington Poets Association and has served as a visiting writer in New Mexico, Montana, and Utah. His poems have been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and selected for fourteen anthologies and dozens of magazines.

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