Aunt Bobbie put in 16 years at Extended Care.
She gossips with her friend Elenore
on picnic benches during lunch breaks.
They say she's doing crack again.
Sells television sets and wholesale outfits to gold tooth drug dealers.
She takes care of babies of girls who party all night
with golden boyfriends. Aunt Bobbie doesn't want to be found.
She doesn't want anybody to see her this way.
Her sisters have given up, thrown up their hands like white flags.
Her brothers have had enough.
Shawn, her only son, is ashamed and doesn't want her for a roommate.
Aunt Earline, who creates magic in the kitchen, who makes the best jelly cake,
doesn't want Aunt Bobbie in the house.
She gave her clothes, soap to wash herself
and three square meals on the good plates
from her china cabinet.
Aunt Alice doesn't have room in her heart for a drug addict grown up.
Bodies pack in every crack and crevice of a three-bedroom house.
Aunt Norris doesn't trust her.
She could run off with my jewelry and sell it for drugs.
Anyway, my son is coming home from the army and she can't be here.
"If only you knew how hard she worked," mama said.
Aunt Bobbie is my favorite on my dad's side.
Third cousins talk about her like a legend.
She used to laugh loud at family reunions.
She used to be pretty.
Will someone help her?
Help her like Uncle Howard,
like Uncle Weed falling down drunk on the living room floor.

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Editor's Note



Shane Allison has published his poems in Coal City Review, Chiron Review, Velvet Mafia, Suspect Thoughts, Babel, Redneck Review, New Delta Review, Red River Review, Literary New York, Frigg Magazine, The Glut and many others. He was born and raised in Florida where he recieved his BA in English from Florida State University and went on to New York where he studied with David Lehman at New School University. His chapbook, Ceiling of Mirrors is out from Cynic Press.

Copyright 2004, Shane Allison. This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.