Fifty Percent Cotton / Unexpected Happiness / As I Walked / On This Particular Morning / The Things Well Hidden

by Ken Tomaro

CC0 Public Domain


Fifty Percent Cotton

Francis Francis of West Virginia
gave birth
to eleven children
four of which
made it to adulthood
and the ones who died
she buried one by one on the hill
by her house
one died when his nightgown burned
as he walked by the fire pit
another died when she coughed herself
to death
the four who had survived
made it to Ohio
Zelah whose name was from
a bible story
went to school with
the famous writer Toni Morrison
who was named something else
at the time
Francis was married to
Golden Mills, an alcoholic
and every week she went
down to the coal mine
to get his paycheck
before he could cash it
at the bar
and I tell you this now
before I am too old to remember
or maybe
no longer here to tell you


Unexpected Happiness

Still alive? I ask her,
through the silence

Yes, they are all gone
(the kids)
and I finally get to sit on the toilet
for a minute

kids are a lot of work, she
tells me

Uh, yes, like never ending
and happiness comes in
sitting on a toilet


As I Walked

The sun was humming through the clouds
just enough that
this particular morning
felt brighter but still gray
and the snow was in piles
touched with dirty footprints
the people looked miserable
and rightly so
clumps of ice and dirty snow
fell around me
as I walked
all was calm yet
and steam was rolling off the rooftops
the coffee was settling in
tomorrow would come
without fanfare
without punctuation
but it would come,
none the less
and I would greet it
as any other day
with as much enthusiasm
as it did me


On This Particular Morning

Two birds were arguing with each other
as I walked, half asleep
to nowhere
lovers in a drunken quarrel
dancing on the bar top for all to see
I say this because it was loud and
rumbling above the other sounds
above the noise of my own footsteps
above the rattle of the coming train
and the booming airplane engines
in the sky
they were in two separate trees
on two separate streets
the air was cold
the kind of cold that settles into the bones
and makes its home for days at a time
with no intention of leaving
the sun was coming up
as it had been doing so earlier and earlier
and I could tell just by staring into it
how it reflected from every branch
in the spider web of trees
how everything was lit just so
Spring would soon be here
the sunrise had that look to it today
sometimes in the Fall as well
but this sunrise doesn’t come with a
the awareness that every living thing
will start to wilt and crumble
but instead be born again
so they argued
in the naked branches
of the separate trees
unaware and indifferent
to the idea that I was listening to everything
I pulled my coat tightly around my neck
adjusted my hat for the hundredth time
felt for my house keys
stepped over a tree root
squinted from the sun
and walked on
letting them continue their disagreement
I let the wind blow through the branches
I left the squirrels to forage
stepped aside allowing the waking life
to reach up to the rising sun
watched the feral cats prowl
watched it all fade behind me
until everything was silent once again
except for the sound of my footsteps
thumping in tune with
my own beating heart


The Things Well Hidden

We thought she was half-baked
from the medication
control had become overrun with
madness, forgetfulness
all those little pills to kill
the overbearing cancer
little objects found in odd places
left us wondering
‘Why would she do that?’
a ring hidden on a shelf
no one would ever find
unless they got an itch
to dust a shelf no one ever paid
attention to
an old bus pass underneath a basket
on top of the piano
we have since come to believe
to understand, rather
it was all done with purpose, not madness
as little reminders of her because
she was so afraid we might forget


Ken Tomaro is an artist and writer living in Cleveland, Ohio. His work has been published in The Light Ekphastic, Tipton Poetry Journal and Sincerely Magazine. He has published two collections of poetry and most if his work is the result of living with depression.

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