The mattress was heavy and hard to carry
filled as it was with years of skin shed sleeping
with subtractable lovers
and steeped as it was in tears and other
wetnesses spilled during twilights
of joy or mornings of pain,
after the rain of their bodies
mingled with pillows and sheets,
after disordered sleep.

She tugged it resolutely
toward the curb
and left it there,
her memories next to bags
of rotting bananas and sanitary napkins–
the base detritus of one’s life sloughed
and shredded like once important papers.

Items that mattered but matter no more
tossed off like an unhappy life.

The woman who talked.

September 2014
Exquiste Corpse Zombie Salon Group Write – Julie Ayers, Andrew Hager, Anne McCall, Tricia Theis Rogalski

They Didn’t Die


Before she’d open the door
she would hook their small chests
into harnesses
attach leashes
and hold tightly
as she turned the knob

The boys would push past
her tanned legs
wild horses stampeding
a canyon of calves and knees
They would rush into the day
pulling her slight form along
as she strained to hold
their two years of energy
multiplied by two

She was 21
hair a silk river
running to her waist
hands perfectly shaped
to hold guitars and paint brushes
She would sometimes clip
the boys’ leashes to a clothesline
strung across the back patio
allowing the straight-haired boy
to sift and toss sand in a box
while the blonde one
with hazel eyes
drove big trucks full of blocks
nearer the wall

The neighbors stood behind
sheets of glass
and called the authorities
outraged by the restraints
muttering accusations of abuse
so an officer was dispatched
to speak to the mother

He couldn’t talk to the father
who had died
the night the boys were born
a drunk driver preventing him
from ever seeing his children
holding their impossibly tiny
preemie bodies
knowing one had curly hair
and darker eyes like him
the other matching the mother
browns and blues

The father never got to open
a single door for them
watch as they rushed out
all exhuberance
toward every hazzard
every wonder

September 2014
Julie Ayers

Silver Alert



There wasn’t much left
some tatters of fabric
a bobby-pin
purchased at some box store
to match her hair
long before

The purse rested
as if set down
next to a slim but sturdy chair
in some shop
while she sipped coffee
leather still sheltering its rainbow of plastic
representations of her
worthiness of risk
her long history of stability
and decisions made responsibly

Trees her headboard
a mattress of weeds
and wildflowers
she lay
a feast
where she’d stumbled
slipping into a final sleep
beyond breath
and wakings to mist or cloudless blue
bones scattered
by industrious birds
fortunate wolves

Had she known her end
she would have been glad
relieved to have not left a mess
to be cleaned by some underpaid aides
wrapping and transporting
the waste she’d left

They had searched
the nursing home cited and fined
her daughter carrying grief
like a spear
never to know
the lost mother
the mother long lost to dementia
rested just as she’d wished
soft sound of stream ahead
tombstone sky

August 2014
Julie Ayers



Thick, dark, iron disks
of various sizes
lay scattered on the beige and tan flecked linoleum
black bench stranded
center room
dusty under the beams and pipes
all the exposed twists of wire
of the Cape Cod’s unfinished basement ceiling
silver bar resting
across the span
meant to hold his tensed back

He’d been moved out
while out one day
arriving home
to be told it was no longer his home
his body building
unlinked from familiar
muscled out
baggage not designed to carry
so much weight

Him left


August 2014
Julie Ayers



An outhouse
at 2:17 am
in high summer,
air hot and harsh
as fresh tar.
Her life,
offal on a plank
in darkness,
necessary leavings.
A hole in which to drop.
and curling.

There was that time
he muscled the pump,
drawing frigid water upwards
so it rushed over her,
washed her clean.

Was there a moon?
She saw
only the purposeful glow
of his truck’s headlights.


Life on a plank.

July 2014
Julie Ayers



(For Melissa)

The rain fell,
harder than their laughter in the dusk,
louder even than their curses at Siri
for her lag-ey lane change prompts,
never leaving them enough time
to cautiously alter course
in DC’s unforgiving torrent of traffic.

Was it the same
for the white box truck
that suddenly veered sharply
across a divider space not meant for travel?
Caught on the wrong side of a split,
the pooled water from the downpour
masked the vast hole
that made the enormous wheels rise up,
the truck buck,
twist beside us,
right itself roughly and
violently slam into the lane
just ahead.

In her peripheral vision,
a ton of swerving truck
rocking treacherously over us
as we fast-sliced through the deluge.
Her, releasing the wheel,
stretching out one arm,
the small, fine, freckled hand
held open before my troubled heart.

Crash or crush immaterial.
I have been saved.

May 28, 2014
Julie Ayers