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The Mississippi Gulf Coast Writers Association's

       

Featured Writer

~ Brenda Finnegan ~

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

    

       

          Brenda Brown Finnegan is a freelance writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, she is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association and the Mississippi Poetry Society. Her poetry collection, Missing Persons, was published by MPS as the first Poet of the Year award. A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, she has made her home on the Gulf Coast with her husband since 1964. She and her husband are the parents of three grown children and six grandchildren.

An Old Woman Lives in My Mother’s House

An old woman lives in my mother’s house;
she sits alone and watches TV.
An old woman lives where my mother once did,
in the house Daddy built in ‘53.

An old woman wears my mother’s clothes
though they don’t fit; they hang on her back.
The old woman shuffles in Mother’s shoes
when we go for a walk at the walking track.

An old woman cries in my mother’s bed,
cries for the things she thinks someone took.
The old woman stops and scratches her head
And looks for her keys, or her puzzle book.

The old woman says no-one ever comes
to visit, though we go every day.
My mother would not complain like that
but the old woman took my mother away.

The old woman wants my mother’s checks;
screams that she has no money at all.
My sister patiently pays the bills,
takes the old woman to shop at the mall.

They buy more yarn for my mother to knit,
to make afghans for little ones’ toes.
The old woman bundles the skeins in bags
and hides it away where only she knows.

The old woman screams when I clean her house;
I shut the door and change the bed.
Sometimes I cry when she throws me out,
though I know it’s not Mother’s anger I dread.

My brothers help out whenever they can.
The old woman swears they never come.
We write in a book, keep a daily log,
for Mother to read, should she ever come home.

Christmas at Pearl Harbor, 1991

The sun feels warm on my face.
At eighty-eight, I need the warmth.
My dry, age-spotted hands
finger the white flower I received
at the ceremony yesterday.

    
My son, entombed in the Arizona,
is forever nineteen,
the same age I was when he was born.
The ache I felt that other December day.
though duller now, is still there, even after fifty years.
  
The hibiscus on the hotel patio
bloom as red as the poinsettias
I left in my old house in New Jersey,
the one we heard the newfls from,
the one where we cried when we read
of the knocking from the ship’s hull;
the agony of eleven days
before it was certain everyone was dead.
  
The anger is gone now,
just the misty memories remain:
him, riding his first bike on Chestnut Street,
the smell at the train station that early morning he left,
duffel bag thrown heavily over his young shoulder.
  

I wish I could have had something of him
to bury in the family plot where his father now lies.
But, this tomb will do. The outline of the ship
under the clear water is headstone enough.

I need new memories now, so I’ll stay here
for Christmas, no need to return
to that old drafty house, alone.
I’ll sit on this patio, with its flamingo awnings
and gaze at the blue water
where my son lies and look into eternity.

Tomorrow, I’ll go shopping
with the other old wives and mothers
who have come for this bittersweet anniversary.
Maybe I’ll just try one of those tropical drinks
with the umbrellas. Maybe I’ll buy a muumuu.

  
**Note:
I wrote this poem in response to the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, using the voice of an imagined mother who lost her young son in that tragedy.

    

 

With Love and Wet Kisses

by Paul E LaViolette

The Wagon Ride

by W. Michiel Hawkins

The Second Generation
by Terry I Miles
Mans Best Friend
by Bruce Wayne Sullivan

Dusty Pages
by Michael Gardebled

One Last Dance

Ayleene Thompson

Purple Passion

by Elva Avara

Holiday Poetry
by Patty Butkovich

Isle of Enchantment

by Henry Heitmann

The Guarantor

by Jay Waitkus

The Coffee House Dinner

by Shannon Rule

Sevan Laws of the Universe
by Linda Eschler

In the Garden

by Celine Rose Mariotti

The Devine Secret

by Mary Ann Sharp

Florida Has Cute Boys

by Lucy Jane Dixon

Roll 'Em, Roll 'Em, Roll 'Em

by Annie B McKee

Baptizing in the Pond

by Fred Prince

Dream World

by Alice Fitchie

Kidnapping of Charlie Rose

by Michael Groetsch

A Southern Baptist Courtship

by Karen Blakeney

Hand Prints

by Joe Brooks

Poetry

by Elena Ahrens

Something Happened-Cross

by Ed Hennessy

Love Hurts

by Bob Struthers

Veteran's Day

by Brenda Finnegan

Poetry
by Kristina Mullenix

Poetry

by Harold McLelland

Up From the Grave

by Betty Wilson Beamguard

Late Edition

by Dixon Hearne

Born Again Christmas Believer

by Elaine Stevens

Poetry

by Nelda R. Broom

Poetry
by Douglas Crotty

Archeologist Ruins Labrador

by John Freeman

Mom's Not Chummy With Fish

by Kristen Twedt

Pelham’s Sat. Morning Frolics

by R. F. Marazas

Old Mule Named Blue

by Charles Riley McInnis

On Being A Woman

by Victoria Olsen

In the Fine Print

by Philip Levin

Waiting for Barley Soup

by D. H. Clair

A Duet
by Andrew Badger
Poetry
by Lewis Stockham
Poetry
by Jane Blanchard
The Day the Music Ended
by Connie Rainey
Lifelines
by Dixon Hearne
You Gotta Be Kidding Me
by Sharon C. Walker
Run, Redneck, Run
by Sam Irwin

Poetry

by Judy Davies

Dixieland Murder
by Teresa Lynn
Poetry
by Elaine McDermott
Afternoon Conversation
by Meg Peresich
The Girl with the Bluebird Tattoo
by Lenny Emmanuel
Ruby Silver (excerpt)
by Randall Reneau
Apple Tree Tavern
by Mary Ellen Gavin
Poetry
by Frank DeCanio
Excerpt from "Gabe"
by Sue Monkgress
Nevermore, Once Again
by Charles Jones
Days of the Week
by Mandy B. Fernandez

We Went Skydiving...
by Frank Wilem

A Good Girl
by Johnnie Bernhard
Poetry
by Poppy Herrin
Excerpt from Bounty Hunters
by Melanie Atkins
In An Enemy's Country
by Jim Fraiser
Poetry
by Carolyn Files
Little Goat in Africa
by Deborah Smith Ford