As I Walked

Poetry Collection by Ken Tomaro

Artwork by Alli Rowe


Fifty Percent Cotton

Francis Francis of West Virginia
gave birth
to eleven children
four of which
made it to adulthood
and the ones who died
she buried one by one on the hill
by her house
one died when his nightgown burned
as he walked by the fire pit
another died when she coughed herself
to death
the four who had survived
made it to Ohio
Zelah whose name was from
a bible story
went to school with
the famous writer Toni Morrison
who was named something else
at the time
Francis was married to
Golden Mills, an alcoholic
and every week she went
down to the coal mine
to get his paycheck
before he could cash it
at the bar
and I tell you this now
before I am too old to remember
or maybe
no longer here to tell you


Unexpected Happiness

Still alive? I ask her,
through the silence
Yes, they are all gone
(the kids)
and I finally get to sit on the toilet
for a minute
kids are a lot of work, she
tells me
Uh, yes, like never ending
and happiness comes in
sitting on a toilet

The Things Well Hidden

We thought she was half-baked
from the medication
control had become overrun with
madness, forgetfulness
all those little pills to kill
the overbearing cancer
little objects found in odd places
left us wondering
‘Why would she do that?’
a ring hidden on a shelf
no one would ever find
unless they got an itch
to dust a shelf no one ever paid
attention to
an old bus pass underneath a basket
on top of the piano
we have since come to believe
to understand, rather
it was all done with purpose, not madness
as little reminders of her because
she was so afraid we might forget

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