Scott Coykendall, a professor of writing at Plymouth State University, has published many poems in journals including Quarterly West, Hayden's Ferry Review, Poets On. Recent work appears in the current/upcoming issues of Black Fox Literary Magazine and The Cossack Review.
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
understood HER HAIR ISNT FALLING
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
SCREAMING awful CRIED FOR AN HR word.
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
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.”