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two poems by liz minette

After

After you died,
your house was still
a mess; like always,
always when we’d come over,
you’d say ‘Excuse the mess.’

Step ladder and paint brushes;
papers, magazines,
and unopened mail.

So much laundry, still
in baskets, over chairs,
piled on dining table.
Folded or not, we didn’t
know what was clean.

Mom and I stopped
by that Sunday,
three weeks before
Christmas. Stopped
to return something.

Your car in garage,
outside house light on.

Sounds of washing machine
didn’t betray you were
no longer here.

After the police
and coroner; after
thick-carpet-voiced
funeral director,

we found:

the unpaid mortgage;
checkbook with only
fifty dollars;
no will.

Later. Later I remembered
seeing you long ago
at downtown casino.
Me with friends;
you losing at slots.

We pretended
not to see each other.

Later I remembered too
Dee’s Laundry.

I could smile remembering Dryer 16,
the one in the middle,
the one where a quarter
got you forever.

Something was wrong with 16,
but then again, something wasn’t.

It’s one of the things

I could’ve wished for you,

after.


Elevator Poem

i swear to god
i will not bring up
the weather

even if it’s the
first thing that
comes to mind

even if it’s
only going up
two floors

even if the other
person in the car
just wants to
say something,
anything, during
our small ride:

sure is warm
out there –
too bad we gotta
go into work,
ha-ha’

or ‘boy, can it
get any colder?’

sometimes though
people forget
the weather, ask
instead about
the condition
of my former
co-worker steve,
who talked about
everything, anything
with anyone
as he rode this
elevator these
past 8 years

jackie from
4th floor,
versace glasses,
coach bag,
ferragamo scarf,
tom ford red lip pout:

‘how’s steve?’
‘how’s steve?’

dan from 3rd asks
dan who, one time on
a Monday morning ride,
reflected on that particular
weekend’s weather,
an excuse to tell us
about cruising his
harley gold wing –
a story that steve
once said always
made him bite his lip
a little harder,
day care bleeding
steve’s heart right thru
his wallet as he trundled
the kids, 5 days a week,
off to it with his 4th owner
rust rose mini-van blues

i’ve got 10 seconds
to my stop to
inform jackie,
to inform dan,
about the
progression
of steve’s
agressive
brain cancer

in 10 seconds
communicate
how he doesn’t
recognize his family
his friends anymore

how he lays in
his piss for hours
at county nursing
home

how’s he leaving
a wife, three kids

we don’t say
we know
we’re,
all of us,
past, present,
lucky
for what we have

what we’ve had

so maybe
10 seconds
talking weather,
talking anything,
is nothing,
is probably
everything


Liz Minetteabout the author: 

Liz Minette lives and works near Duluth, Minnesota and Lake Superior.  She recently self-published a chapbook of poems titled ‘November’, and some literary magazine publication credits include Blue Collar Review, Calyx – A Journal of Art & Literature by Women and Nerve Cowboy.  She works at a public access television station in Duluth and dj’s for local college radio station KUMD.