For Janice

Rachel Wielgopolski


Your mailbox is full of condolence letters

for your sons

and unpaid bills

and report cards

and your son’s college bills.


Table’s still dirty from last night’s meatloaf

and rings untreated from where

your son forgot to use a coaster.


Cigar box is drying up

the litter box filling up quickly

food bowls going empty

remote battery running low.


Two boys in a different house with different people

wondering when they’ll see their rooms again

if they’ll see them again.


Your bitch of a mother finally distraught,

Your three brothers and father

for once without that smirk.


I cried at your wake,

your mother dampened my shoulder.

Your autistic bratty son wept real tears

instead of playing on his phone.

It’s the only time a lot of us

didn’t roll our eyes at you.

Maybe we wanted you to see it.


Dozens of people, maybe a hundred,

showing up to say

I’m sorry for your loss and

I hope you’re okay

to your family.


Not even half of them would’ve shown up

and ask if you were okay before this,

With bills unpaid and your eldest son

worried about financial aid.

No one offered to help before.


Your boyfriend your lover whatever he is

he’s also my father,

and he always came by and always laughed

never spent the night.

Overnight must’ve been too long away

from his children.

And you always wondered why he drove home.

I mean, maybe you both forgot

he had his own house until he remembered it.

Maybe you forgot about us, his kids,

who wouldn’t think of visiting you.


Dad was going to take you to bike week

like he does every year.

He would take you on vacation

like every year.

The way you were acting though?

Like you’re a diva with a broken nail?

You and your boys would’ve stayed behind.


Now pens and pencils and homework

sit half-finished on a

messy coffee table.


The kitchen counter’s covered

in junk mail

and old papers

and who knows what.


Dishes from last night

and maybe the night before

sit in the sink

waiting for you to clean them and put them to bed,

now they’re starting to smell.


You didn’t tell the boys to take out

the garbage and now

who’s going to tell them?



and dogs

and boys



You’re sleeping in a different place

the dirt now just disturbed

to tuck you in.


My brothers,

your sons’ friends

are without a clue as how to feel.


My dad left a girl years ago

because he couldn’t see a future with her

and now he can’t have one with you either.