Chicken of Grief

“Can you get me some barbecued chicken?”

my mother begged unmercifully

“Your father would have done it,”

and pointed to his wooden urn next to the cat

who sat quietly on the mantlepiece

“Okay, Okay,” I caved,

not wanting to bring up the deceased

“Just give me a few bucks

and I’ll get your barbecued chicken”

She hid her money in a secret hiding place,

behind a Hardy Boys book on a dusty shelf

“Tell them to give me a good-sized half,

and a side of mashed with brown gravy”

Mother liked white meat and creamy butter corn

She only ate chicken from around the corner,

couldn’t eat her own cooking or even mine

She preferred food prepared by the dirty little hands

of teenagers in white sailor caps

My mother didn’t ask for much

She had varicose veins in both legs,

a chronically woeful look on her face,

stockings that sagged below the knees

and often left the house without wearing panties

“And when you come back,” she said,

“you can relax with the paper

on your father’s lounge chair,

and I’ll heat up a liver knish

and you can wash it down with a Pepsi”

And together we watched the 6 o’clock news

on her old Magnavox TV with rabbit ears

She ate her barbecued chicken with mashed

I read the Sunday Inquirer holding a knish

And Dad’s urn rested on the mantlepiece with the cat.

Mark Tulin is a former therapist living in Ventura, CA. He has authored Magical Yogis, Awkward Grace, and The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories, Junkyard Souls, and has appeared in many online magazines, anthologies, and podcasts. He can be found at and Twitter: @Crow_writer.

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