Rough Night

Scott Coykendall

My dad, in his seventies, has taken up

texting so he can send daily updates

about Mom to my siblings and me. ROUGH

NIGHT Under his thumb, the words BAD

NAUSEA LAST NIGHT don't come easy.

They are dear. Staccato. WIG FITTING

TODAY In this one way only, my dad seems

younger – a teenager desperate to be


OUT THO in all caps, un-punctuated, un-

spell-checked, WELL LEAVE THE TAG ON IT

to say each BAD NIGHT whole SHE WOKE UP


Meanwhile, ROUGH NIGHT I have grown

nostalgic for a time I barely had. SHE FELL

IN THE BATHROOM No one leans their bicycle

YR VISIT MADE HER SO HAPPY against the garden

gate MISS U ALREADY to jog the day's bad news

ROUGH NIGHT to our front door. The wires don't

sing. BAD DAY There is no stationery to recognize,

nothing to slice open. HAD TO GIVE MORPHINE 3X

Instead, the dread pops out of the air in the middle

of class, U BETTER COME SOON just before

a meeting, ROUGH NIGHT in the coffee line.


My hands are dumb.


Moth and Wren

Scott Coykendall

Relieved, I confess, I allowed the ragged moth flapping

against the window, to pull me away from the open card
I struggled to fill with some bright word for my dying mother.


The moth bumped from pane to pane until a common

house wren, pointed and brown as grief, spotted it and lit

on the climbing rose outside. One. Two. Who knows

how many times the bird lunged against one side

of the window, the moth gasping against the other?

Wings pleading, “This way! This way!” until,

wanting escape for all of us, I snatched the moth
in my loose fist, carried it to the screen door, released it

to whatever’s next. “Dear Mom,” I finally began and shook


the scales from my hands. “I hope you can hear the songbirds

outside your window.”