Category Archives: poetry

West Palm Beach: A Poem by Marla Chalnick

West Palm Beach

My mother is waiting to die in her sleep.
Her brain has been scrubbed clean.
I struggle to trust this renovation.

My 90-year-old mother lives alone in
a row of condos that resemble army barracks.
She is surrounded by counters covered,
closets overstuffed, piles, boxes
leave little room for her to move about.
It’s the kind of place where middle class
New York Jews go to live with disappointment.
Looking forward to the Early Bird Specials,
they wait to die, just not yet.

June Doe

by Marla Chalnick

A sliver of light

creeps through grey faded eyes

on a face of crepe paper and silk.

Sliver of light

illuminates pink  manicured fingernails

extending from hands of worn leather and velvet

no food or water for twenty-seven days

what nourishes a soul

as it transitions from this life to the next?

No cards  flowers  pictures  empty coffee cups

I sit at her  bedside in a black folding chair

soothing music plays on the television

I hold the space  hope she senses presence

Wonder how the soul leaves the body?

Drift  off before the heart stops beating

gather up spirit and shoot out of the crown

linger to protect  parts that are cold

only to arrive in the heaven we learned

of in childhood, or might she abandon form,

leaving soul energy to float in a silver sea of spirits,

nurtured by kaleidoscopic  light.

One Summer Mother

by Marla Chalnick

I hear babies crying
windows open
sun barely set
curtains still
air silent
babies crying in the alley
Mother says I am bad
says I take advantage of her
what does that mean?
I eat supper in the bathroom
cold tile floor feels yummy
against my bare legs
toilet seat is my table
scrambled eggs are cold
I push them around the plate
lose my appetite
crying babies in the alley
I lie in bed in my underwear
My room an oven
No milk and cookies
no TV
just me wishing
I could fall asleep
babies cry in the alley
Mother says they’re cats
I don’t know any cats
they sound sad
Maybe they are starving too