December 20, 2008


by Howie Good

My grandfather had a bad heart.
The doctors warned him

about smoking a pack a day
and drinking slivovitz,

the plum brandy that tastes
like nail polish remover smells,

but he didn’t listen.

One day he collapsed in the street.
Someone screamed.

Someone else ran to the firehouse for help.
A fireman who had been shining

a fire truck, a pump and ladder, ran out.
My grandfather looked dead.

He wasn’t moving at all.
He wasn’t even moaning.

The fireman gave him mouth-to-mouth.
People later said it was lucky

he collapsed right outside a firehouse.
Otherwise, they said, he wouldn’t be here.

Then my grandmother got sick and died,
and my parents got old themselves.

They put my grandfather into a nursing home.
He would quietly unzip and pee in the hall.

*a review of Howie's new chapbook:


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