1. Lift

I lifted my mother's body from the passenger seat-
the notches of her spine, her slats of ribs-
each bone against my skin, her weight
pulling me down even as I lifted her

my only thought
don't let go
don't let go
don't let go

2. Mortality

The hospice nurse with his close-trimmed beard
skinned with moonlight's milksheen
helping me place her in a wheelchair

I find the solitary gray on his face
and we are all dying

3. Ghosts

We pushed her to the room in which she'd die
so clean and somber
we were fooled out of imagining
the last family to cry where we sat

For that
we have nothing but

4. Breath

She scooped again and again into her wet lungs

like a fish
tasting air
and hating it


The desert drowns in the sheets of rain
because it cannot take in
this bounty

Is it stubborn
or just dumb

6. Questions

I held her hand
Her cold fingers white-blue
I looked into her face
I wanted more time
I wanted to know she was safe
These were the things I could not have now or ever
It was mid-morning
We asked the clock for more specifics

7. Hospice (Detail)

Everyone in hospice continued toward
oblivion, but in our room all was stopped

Her breathing-our breathing

8. The Weight I Carried

I let it fall. I waited so long

to hear it land

for that sound
when I would know the weight
touched down

It never came

9. Breath (Later)

Her post-it notes
throughout the house

each one flapping
in the unseen breath
of ceiling fans.


Charles Jensen is the author of six chapbooks of poems, including the recent Story Problems and Breakup/Breakdown, and The First Risk, which was a finalist for the 2010 Lambda Literary Award. A second collection, Nanopedia, is forthcoming in 2018 from Tinderbox Editions.  A past recipient of an Artist’s Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, his poetry has appeared in American Poetry Review, Bloom, Columbia Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, Field, The Journal, New England Review, and Prairie Schooner. He is the founding editor of the online poetry magazine LOCUSPOINT, which explores creative work on a city-by-city basis. He lives in Los Angeles.