Sally Rhoades

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Innocence Lost

The bone chilling news out of Vegas
can not be digested, felt, dismissed,
Reacted to or even considered. The pain

is awful it lays wounds where happiness
has been. We can't go on in festive out
pouring as we remember what death

Feels like, what suffering looks like, what
gashed wounds of loss do to us as a
Nation. There is little recompense as

the totality of barren loss reaches up to
each one of us not there, not present,
watching in horror an incident of such

Tragedy our hearts bleed. The only thing I
can think of to do is donate blood, as the
Sheriff, the Mayor, the Congresswoman,

And the Governor stand in this horrific
moment asking for people to donate
blood. Daily life gets lost in this moment,

In the catastrophe of spirit, as all hands
on deck showed up and served as laughing
strangers were shot down at a Country

Music festival where they were dancing
and singing along. Mothers and children,
sisters and brothers, lovers, newly

married, old timers all wearing the midriffs
open, their cowboy boots, their cowgirl hats
and their hearts wide open with song.

Riding Shotgun

My Aunt sits next to me at ninety-four
in the same seat I sat in when I was four

And five and we'd go adventuring. We visit
My Aunts and Uncles and cousins. Go to

the swimming hole with them, have pie, sit
at the kitchen table and visit. Grandma

Arquette was alive then and there'd be
cookies atop the refrigerator in the

summer kitchen. She'd reach for the tin
as I came through the door. A basket of toys

offered in the warm living room. My Aunt loved
to roam and I was her side kick.

Now, some fifty years later, she is mine.
I tumble her into the car and we drive

over to North Lawrence where her father
was raised and rests in the cemetery

With his mother and father and where
my Aunt will rest when she is gone. For now,

We jaunt to bingo, have lunch, visit friends,
stop at Kinny's , maybe the bank.

She still knows her way and guides me on streets
I never learned to drive. Turn left,

Get in the right lane. It's just at the end
of the road. She has been my guide my

whole life as she savors her days,
exclaiming, "I'm ninety-four. I'm the last

One. They are all gone." I say, "I know. I am
so lucky you are still here." She nods.

Sally Rhoades, a former Capital reporter in Albany, N.Y., began writing poetry in the late 1980’s. Last September she was interviewed by poet Charlie Rossiter on Poetry Spoken Here. She is a frequent Albany open mic poet and has featured at the various venues. She began traveling out to Oklahoma in 2012 to read at the Woody Gutherie centennial and is a frequent reader at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival in Ada, Ok. Her poetry has been published in Dragon Poetry Review, 2, Elegant Rage, a poetic tribute honoring the centennial of Woody Gutherie, the Highwatermark Salo[o]n performance series by Stockpot flats, Up the River, by Albany Poets, 8T3 and in Peerglass, an anthology of the Hudson Valley. She is also a performance artist and will be showcasing a new work, Surrender Blue, next September in Oslo, Norway. Her fourth play, My Utica, is in negotiations.