Waiting on her bench by the bay window,
Waiting like a sailor’s wife, seconds chipping,
She’d scribble black phrases on bars,
Claw copper wire out of her scalp,
Claw jarring jangles from careworn piano keys,
Waiting to snort a brief supply.
From her great grandmother’s
We shipped that played-out heirloom here.
Here it stands out in our front room
Like an old saloon prop, like it might
Plunk “The Entertainer” by itself; instead
It stands upright with the lid shut.
I wait on her bench for my lift to arrive,
I wait for the drive to the recovery centre.
I’ll hand over stained Hanes to a social worker,
quat after she searches my bag;
The nurses will patronize in ivory pitches.
I’ll hear the grave left hand weigh
Down The Young & The Restless theme,
Read verse wrought with motley platitudes
And bad grammar on bulletin boards,
Bunk with a junky’s bottomless armpit reek.
He’ll share abominations and with a flimsy pillow
Hush me, paranoid I might sing.
Joe Bishop’s work has appeared in journals such as The Puritan, The New Quarterly, Plenitude Magazine, Tar River Poetry, Innisfree Poetry Journal, and Riddle Fence and is featured on the League of Canadian Poets’ website. He is a recipient of a Newfoundland & Labrador Arts & Letters award for poetry. His first collection, Dissociative Songs, was published in 2021 by Frog Hollow Press.