(from Getting Up S'Only Easy for the Sunrise)

for Fall River, Massachusetts

Her eyes are black without mascara, sunk in like Mason jar lids;
                       she smokes more than the cooling towers
                                            across the cove.

Her name is not Lizzie Borden but they are both innocent
                                            yet treated as guilty.

That part of the story is not unique.

She had a dream in her once,
               wanted to be a mortician,
               wanted to make the dead feel beautiful one last time,
                                                                      she tells me,

But she couldn’t justify the loans,
            worked hard to save
only to discover the college adviser told her the wrong information.

Now she works while caring for her extended family;
                             caring for her nephew, giving him the love he needs
                                                             so he’ll never feel ashamed.

He likes to wear dresses,
      likes to take dance lessons,
                           dances with people twice his age,
                    and dances well.

                             He’s happy, she tells me,
                              and beautiful.

Hope in heaven
                     we pray.

A high school shop teacher hung himself in his home.
                  Rumor has it his wife filed for a divorce,
                    left a note    for her    taped to his chest.

That part of the story is not unique.

He use to yell Tarzan calls that rang throughout the shop,
              sang the Beach Boys throughout the day in such a manner
                                            you could say he wasn’t singing at all.

He would say,
  I’m going to teach you little about machine shop and a lot about life
                                      —would teach work ethic in such a manner
                                                         it made  you   listen to yourself
                                                               so   others   would as well.

Hope in heaven
                     we pray.

A nobody overdosed on heroin,
                         found lying on his bed, face up, blue;
                         in the adjacent room         his elderly mother slept.

That part of the story is not unique.

He gave me a Christmas card
                 a few years back     when no other family member did.
      Inside was twenty dollars and the message,
A reason to care about the holidays. Love, Uncle Mike.

I thanked him then
           and still do.

Hope in heaven.
                   No—not in heaven
                                            hope right here, hope right now.

      that is more
                 than a lottery ticket,
more than a cigarette drag.

      that isn’t persuaded
                              by what can you do with that?
or get your head out your ass.

      that prevents
                      a person
from being anything other than
                           happy and beautiful.

Hope, we will.