Gut punched—
after emptying
Mother’s apartment
I landed in Portland
to find my Subaru nowhere
till I realized finally
how turned around
I was. No such luck
for Mother, among the last
blackened ashtrays,
lipsticked butts of
Kools and Lucky Strikes.

Shrunken, mumbling,
Mother scorched
the carpet, the bureau.
Tar-browned walls
framed white squares
where portraits hung,
stench so thick
I gagged.

Was she the same Mother
who gulped the day’s
first Maxwell House,
Good to the last drop,
puffed cigarette
after cigarette,
screamed at me
reading in bed
sunny mornings.
Can’t you
ever be normal?
Talking to you is like
talking to a wall.