editing Jen

I stopped half way through 

Jen’s autobiography

Because things got dark when

The Ouija board killed

The man cleaning the coffee pot in the kitchen

Close to the unnamed laundromat which seems to me to be

A protagonist they used to smoke and drink behind

She was only 13


Tell mommy

That is when the addiction started…

“We struggled, moved to the next road over in a house outta apt, Tara was staying out all night, got a boyfriend way way older than her”

She lived with her father and her stepmom until Jen was born and she was abused.  Then she came to live with her mother.

“The Monopoly Game at McDonald’s-Tara and I lived on that for that whole summer.”

Other people in the house played a different kind of monopoly game, eating everything, seven people in a three bedroom house.

“He and his girlfriend in my mother’s bed..we did not warn them when she came home…she threw the girl out”

Inadvertently losing both a daughter-in-law and her own favorite bar shirt which the young woman was wearing at the time.

“Mom started doing cocaine”

Lou started…


the fog is lovely, unexpected tonight, loitering as it is prone to do elsewhere-not here though where where it expresses disappointment with the local poets-no metaphors? No cats, no shrouds, no pithy imagery, usually at least a simile or two-Who shrug, apologetic, who doesn’t love a good fog?  Proffering  this instead-early model champagne Cadillac sedan with at least a dozen teddy bears-in the passenger’s seat, the generous back row, lined up neatly, patiently waiting, waiting for the Someone who put them there, seatbelted so that even when the vehicle is motionless, parked, they are prepared for the crash, the collision the

Full force of this unexpected


Only a fictional girlĀ 

Only a fictional girl would walk into the house and not notice the prurient magazines by the front door, alighting instead on the cookie press  in the  kitchen grandma rolling out the dough after it has been mixed, pressed, shaped into a ball and refrigerating overnight derelict old phones and cameras, a stack of games she played with him in her (fictional) childhood, his competitive streak annihilating any possibility of comradery only as she revisits the rooms in the house like so much like a real house on a street so much like a real street 

Where a fictional man once lived 

Father’s Day in Heaven

The woman at the stilled light resembles me in the shape of her (impatience) until I notice her face, made asymmetrical by fire, some refiguring story, and I think they could be just paper plates, dimes stretched thin to fit us faces, “render unto Caesar…render unto God…

our Father who art in heaven…”

Been ten years  set free of the obligations of earthbound Father’s Day while You tied yourself- knot at the end of this rope of my life. Hold on tight, little girl, kite in the wind, blue sky coming,


Quiet Here

Jen asks me why the parenthesis around Badamo(?) and I give her part of an answer in words then spend the rest of the day thinking about how inefficient it is to attempt to distill rage, grief, voicelessness into a slim set of punctual marks.

There was a moment (or a million) after I lost my foster daughter (Veronica Celeste Badamo) when I thought, baby mills (they never cared who they were hurting, I was just a care-giver placeholder, God, how much this hurts)…

I was (just) a foster mother.  Just a bystander, unless heartbreak were a thing objectively quantifiable.

Not just the way they lied to us.

All the children who got taken.

All the voicelessness 

In parentheses.

So irrevocable.

Jen’s Story, Part 3

Still just editing:

Went to Gram’s, the window was busted, my brothers in the yard…the cops asked what I wanted to do.  Didn’t want to make trouble so I went with him to Florida for a year until my mother had him extradited.

When we came back they got back together!

Later he was in the kitchen washing out a coffee pot and he collapsed.  We had a Ouija board on top of the refrigerator.  Mom said that was what really killed him.

We waited 45 minutes for the ambulance.  Tara tried to give him CPR….

Jen’s Story, Part 2

just the (minimalist) editor here-

Part 2

I miss her.

She’d call me Jennybug.  She was sexually abused by her paternal uncle. They made my brother watch. Devastating.  Terrible monsters.

My father had been exposed to agent orange in Vietnam.  He got cancer.  It was bad…before he got sick…he stole me when he was in remission.

My brother had just gotten out of the army reserves and needed socks so we were living at my Pap-pap’s.  I was only eight.  I had a bad feeling and I begged and begged my mother not to take him to the store.

They left me at the laundromat to get the socks from the store.  As soon as they left my dad showed up and took me.

End Part 2

Jen’s Story

My friend wrote a story– hit me in the gut.  Here it is.  Not my words, hers:

We used to hide in the closet not knowing if our mom was dead or alive.  She had a scholarship but my Pap-pap got sick so we moved in and she hung out with the wrong people.

She wouldn’t go to school because people would make fun of her.  Her stepmom used to lock her and my brother in the basement, crack eggs on their heads, beat them…

She raised me, never had a minute without me unless I was with my Grams.

We had a boat. My dad loved her as his own.  We three were always on the boat.  We used to have to go chop wood and drag it and it was cold.

They were cheap so they used the fireplace, ugh-deer meat! They made us eat deer meat.  I refused to eat it. She did dishes, so I would spit it in a cup and she would throw it away for me. 


End Part 1


a word we take for granted, bridge between a and b, here and there, our history of words, words on paper, the belief that hereafter matters 

Because you were there

Even when I did not hear your voice I took for granted

You were out there somewhere

Waiting for, fighting for,

That elusive

Happily ever after

Prettier than me

When I met Tara she was prettier than me, younger than me, and in most ways far more disenfranchised than me.  In fact there was just one area of our briefly conjoined Venn diagram connectedness where the power was ostensibly hers and definitely not mine: she was the real mom to a baby I loved very much.  In that (I had been told by at least 2 lawyers) she had the legal edge.  She should have been able to designate a capable guardian for her children.  The law favored the biological mother.  And at that time, at the end of 1998, it gave no credence to the foster mother.

A fact I can accept now, after most of the unbearable losing of Tara’s beautiful child has scarred over.

What I can’t accept is losing Tara