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Coffee with Jessie

Jessie was mama to the alcoholics
wings singed by multicolored flames
of obsession, they flocked to her thrice weekly
meetings in the bomb shelter

Brother S who’d mixed valium
and Irish whiskey waving his ten-year
jail sentence for killing his lover in a passion,
Sister F, ex whore now mother to
two adolescent misfits and C the silent
mumble-lipped stick man whose past
he was too afraid to remember

all drinking cheap coffee and milk powder
they sat around the stained table reading
paragraphs of chapter five in turn


On Fridays we climbed the seventy steps
to Jessie’s top floor nest where humidity
soared and the telephone never stopped sweating
Jesie was a faded flower, wilting and wise but she
had nice legs which she hid under long slit
skirts; once she caught me looking at her green
panties while on a call to an unhappy teenager
”Do you like my legs?” she surprised me
”Are you thinking of having sex with me?”
I laughed, “Jessie, we’re too old”
”We could try” she said, clearing away the dishes


Bone cancer got her in the end, her funeral
was overflowing, briefly I escorted her coffin
its wood surprisingly light, so many lives
she had touched with her cheap coffee prayers
I hoped that most of them did not know
how fragile she was inside
- and how green

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© Johnmichael Simon



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