He wouldn’t lecture me.
I could see in his eyes—heavy,
finding sleep in reclining chairs
while his younger grandchildren bounced
from plastic covered couch
to carpet—that he heard, and ignored,
plenty of lectures about what the next cigarette would do.
When the doctor put a tube into his lungs,
drained decades of tar,
we all began to understand
the fragility of our family name.
I relished the act of sneaking a Camel
in the backyard where I didn’t know he saw me
crouched in the grass by the stone Virgin Mary,
forgetting that a year ago
his daughters prepared for a life without a father
while gathering in Christ Hospital
to see his olive skin made darker
by the contrasting hospital gown.
Even in the ICU we laughed
as he flirted with a nurse,
pretended that he had too much life to die,
recalled injuries loading plywood
onto a truck, smashing his fingers into
tree roots, maps of the Mediterranean pressed
on his dark face.
And when he had to take oxygen
we treated it like a quirk,
like an odd affectation.
When he got lost driving,
staying gone two days, we panicked
though some of us were convinced
that this was the way he had to die,
re-mapping the streets and neighborhoods
he knew like the Back of the Yards,
Englewood, Pilsen, Little Village,
the streets that grew from under him
like the ivy back in Bari.
by Vincent Francone
Vincent Francone is a writer of minor note living in Chicago, working at jobs that would make the average person sick. He writes of his city and the wayward folk therein.
Poetry (any form or style) and Micro or Flash Fictions wanted for an anthology on SMOKE. Not just the black clouds rising from the five-alarm fire next door, or the billowing plumes of smoke warning us of a forest fire, or the emissions from factory smoke stacks, apartment house incinerators, and crematoriums, smoke rings rise from cigarettes, smoke pours out of headshops, pipe shops & cigar stores--see that purple haze rising over the fields of poppies and marijuana we just planted--we've used it to communicate via smoke signals and skywriting, to cover our tracks and disappear with and without mirrors, combat the enemy on and off the battlefield, kill bugs, flavor food, cure illness, declare peace treaties, and fragrance our homes. Got the idea? Release it onto the page.
Guidelines: Submit up to three poems/micro fictions or two flash fictions at a time with a fascinating bio of 35 words or less, not just limited to publication credits, copy/pasted in the body of an e-mail (no attachments, please) to roxy533 at yahoo dot com & violetwrites at nyc dot rr dot com. We will also entertain up to six one-liners or 2 short stand up routines at time. Previously published work is OK as long as authors have retained the copyright, which will be returned to them after publication. Simultaneous submissions are encouraged. If your work is accepted elsewhere, and you still have obtained rights to republish, just let us know where and we'll be happy to acknowledge the other publication.
If you do not receive a response from us within a month of your submission considered it rejected and feel free to submit again. Due to the volume of submissions we cannot respond to each and every individual submission. Selection for the on-line edition are made on a ongoing basis as we receive your submissions. However, final selections for the print edition will made after the October 31st deadline. (In otherwords not everything that made the cut for the online edition will appear in print.) Please do not query. When in doubt, send the submission to roxy533 at yahoo dot com & violetwrites at nyc dot rr dot com.