JACQUELINE JULES is the author of three chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press), Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications), and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her poetry has appeared in over 100 publications including The Broome Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Hospital Drive, and Imitation Fruit. She is also the author of 40 books for young readers. Visit www.jacquelinejules.com.
Shortly after my sister died,
The New York Times ran a piece
on “Lonely Death.” Defined
as lying dead for months
or years before anyone notices
you’re absent from a world
where no one needs your presence.
In Japan, clean-up crews dispose
of debris found beside aging elders
who left their homes so seldom
only the smell signaled their demise.
My single sister could have been
the skeleton described—
found three years after the fact,
body eaten by beetles and maggots.
Instead, she had me
to provide a witnessed death,
complete with tubes
and hissing machines.
“No respirator,” she rasped,
as the nurse lowered
the oxygen mask.
Her last relative, I signed
the papers I wonder who
will sign for me
as the years fill with losses
like garbage bags carried
from a tiny apartment after
the corpse has been removed.
“Huge, fast-moving flames trapped families with children as they tried to flee.”
–Mati, Greece July 2018
Some made it to the sea
Others only to a cliff.
found in clusters
Groups of three or four.
Fire offers focus.
Shows us how to stop
what we love
If You Want To Help
Remember it hasn’t been five years for me.
I’m still standing at the cemetery, sobbing.
Wait a bit. Let me tell you first
how my father worked a second job
weekends, how he came into my room
at midnight to kiss my cheek,
before you talk about your dad,
how seeing his favorite cereal
still triggers your tears.
Give me a chance to say
how robbed I feel
as if the diabetic foot
the free clinic couldn’t treat
was lopped from both
his body and mine.
I know your father is dead, too.
But I’m still standing at the cemetery,
still watching the coffin lowered
into the ground. Just hold my hand
and listen to me weep.
A Bed on Wheels
It wasn’t until
long after the stretcher
was rolled from the room
they drove him away
with a clamorous wail
That I realized
My role ended
I called 911.
I pull to the curb quickly
when sirens blare
and I measure each moment
against a bed on wheels
rushing down the walk.
He found her waiting in a frame
at Rosewood County Art Fair.
Her plump lips parted
in a Mona Lisa smile. Soft brown
curls coiffed for the fifties.
Daddy claimed she was the one—
the one to prove he had the eye
to fill a house with priceless art,
cleverly purchased for a pittance.
As a child, I caught him in the hall,
eyes locked on hers.
Even Mom called her “Daddy’s Lady.”
Admiring her now, in my living room,
I notice deep-set eyes in a heart-shaped face.
Like my mother’s, except one shade darker.
Was this framed lady more than
a purchase by a would-be connoisseur?
Was she, instead, a fond reminder?
A love lost long ago, when my father
was a young man in Algeria,
dreaming of America.
Was my mother his second choice?
Questions that hang
like this painting
on a wall.
From the Editor:
We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.
Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?
The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.
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By In Parentheses in IP Volume 7
32 pages, published 1/15/2022
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