To The Woman On My Porch Who Aches For Grandchildren

By Alex Heldman

 Photo by Franky Mariachi

Photo by Franky Mariachi

 Photo by Franky Mariachi

Photo by Franky Mariachi

I saw an old film once, in sepia strokes,

where wordless men marched on into

an inkblot night, haloes cast in fire.

They stood there, round the way, and

I think they chanted. I imagine they did.

Some nights I’m there with them, my hands

held high in scuttling song, my words slushed out

like snakes on the tongue.


Do you remember, ma’am,

when I had the girl?

She tasted like old moments and weathered paper,

she moved like branches and

she made me sing old star ballads, that nebula dirge.

I lit a candle and she blew it out over and over.

What the hell in nitrogen and oxygen,

but it’s the carbon that played the notes.


Come the morning, the sun licked my face,

and she was gone. Of course she was.

You thought this song had a happy ending?

Chords break into diamonds on the wind?

I don’t know the progression well, but I know the numbers.

And one and one ended with zero.

In a timed-out diner, I checked my phone.

Nothing there but the clock.