March 7, 2021

Susan Vespoli


Go south and then west to a distant unknown
address. Drive past junk yards, steel shops, stacked
car parts, and a billboard for weed pizza. Breathe.
Remember the last time you saw her, Christmas,
and before that, the car ride between hospital stays.
Bring the cake you baked, the kind she likes: cocoa frosted
yellow square plus cupcakes left at home for her daughter.
Pack the gift bag, pink tissue-papered things she asked for:
track phone, cleansers in a plastic tub, socks. Card you made
from an old photo, your arms circling her little-
girl body, both of you smiling, her grin with perfect
rows of baby teeth, yours in plum lipstick. Park, watch
her walk to your car, barefoot, no pants, long red tee-shirt,
dark hair coiling to her waist. Wave. Say hi, make eye
contact. Hand her envelopes, bags, the tin pan
of golden cake. Hear her say thank you. Follow her
through the front door into a house with no furniture.
Learn the boyfriend you don’t know is upstairs. Ask
if she’s taking care of herself. Listen to the wind howl.
See her eyes dance backward. Worry. Swirling
dust outside the window. Look how she opens
the card, finds a trace of who you two were then
is still here in this empty unfamiliar room. Put your arms
around her, feel her wobble. Say, enjoy your cake! Wonder
if there’s any chance they even have a knife.

from Poets Respond
March 7, 2021


Susan Vespoli: “Loving someone with addiction and mental challenges in the time of Covid is a daily humbling.” (web)


Join us this morning for Poets Respond Live! Click here to watch …

Rattle Logo

July 23, 2019

Susan Vespoli


I like to think he graduated
from the methadone clinic,
now does yoga, gave up

smoking. I like to think he grew
a new set of bright teeth
to replace the ones that rotted.

I like to think he rents a studio
with a patio near the canal
filled with crappies and sunfish

not nodding off with homeless junkies.
I like to think he leans back
in an Adirondack, after loading

the dishwasher with cupcake pans
from birthday muffins like the ones
he baked for me topped with candles

that he brought to the Mex place
where he hired a trio of sequined
mariachis to serenade us

as we dined on cheese enchiladas.
I like to think he is waiting
for just the right minute of the right hour

of the right day to reappear

to tell me he is living

free of pills and booze and meth
and smack and at the end
of each long hot Phoenix day,

he drops himself
into the cool blue complex pool,
then emerges shiny, dripping.

from Poets Respond
July 23, 2019


Susan Vespoli: “What started as a free-flowing prescription for pain pills for back pain turned into a heroin addiction, and eventually an eraser.” (web)

Rattle Logo