Sweet Little Nothings


Her life was one of improvisation—
of the kind of spontaneity that,
unlike planned events,
made the event itself,
not the planning,
more fun.


Childhood Memories: The Luck of the Irish


I remember, years ago, when my brother was little, good things seemed to happen to him. (He once won a Beetlejuice contest and we all got a free trip to Hollywood, though it was a real downer when my parents went trolling for celebrity headstones).

I remember expecting to be picked up in a limousine, but an old man that reminded me of Alfred from the Batman show came for us in a Lincoln, holding up a sign that said Brooks. (Our name was Booker, which I never liked because kids would replace the k with a g.)

So yes, Kel (then Kelly), was lucky, and I would get so sick of my parents saying he had “the luck of the Irish,” to which I would exclaim, “He’s not Irish!”

Well, many years later, my parents would send their spit to have their DNA tested and so it turned out, he was.

We were.

And I am so glad that is something my mom got to do before she passed away, even though Dad got on her nerves with all his lamenting that she didn’t have any Jewish blood (which he though “prestigious”).

Dad, however, was thrilled when he found out he was one-third Scandinavian, or “Viking” (as he calls it). I’d considered getting him one of those helmets with the horns on it, though I could’ve sworn he was French, being so passive.

But even though DNA tells us where we came from, what we’re made of, and sometimes, where we’ve been (outer space in Scott Kelly’s case, for example), it doesn’t tell us where we’re going.

That is the story we get to write.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book


Mother was Odile,
I, Odette—
the two-headed swan
Sister Wiley sought to split.

Maxwell Manor was too big to be called a house,
too quiet to be called a home.
It was The Waiting Place,
where David resided,

A bitterness,
hard & brittle,
began to form,
hardening my heart.
Elder Roberts had made his choice—
a choice that hadn’t included me.

As surely as God had brought Elder Roberts & I together,
his Church had torn us asunder.
I’d kept every commandment,
but broken all the rules.

Like Father de Bricassart with his Meggie,
Elder Roberts would love his Church more than me,
& give to it
what it would take from me.

The Mark of a Day


It was last spring that I wrote “Hanging from the Family Tree” for poetry class, and a year ago that I read it to a group of students, professors, and faculty at a student poetry reading.

Not even two months ago, I’d already had two pieces picked out to read this evening–one serious, the other silly.

That changed a week ago.


Last year, I remember it being dark and cold, but this year, it was mild and sunny.  The weather seemed almost profane, in light of all that had transpired.

A part of me had wondered if it was too soon to read a poem about my mom, but I read it anyway, and I’m so very glad I did.

I’d struggled with the piece until after my mother’s funeral yesterday morning, and then, with that small measure of closure, the memories came tumbling out like the contents of a cornucopia.  I realized then that when someone is with us, we don’t go around thinking about them, but when they’re gone, we think about them to keep them near, for we fear forgetting even one of the thousand little details that made them, them.


So I asked God if He would grant Mom special permission to listen in tonight.  I sort of think that’s how it should work, because I don’t want my loved ones up there watching me to go to the bathroom, among other things.  (That might be quite embarrassing.)

I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get through it without weeping, but I think when Q–the first poet of the night–opened with his piece about losing his mother, his story startingly parallel to my own, I shed the tears that were in store.

And what a blessing it was to be among friends that night–to share with them something of myself.

Student Poetry Night was a catharsis for me, for I believe every time we share a story of a loved one, it’s like they are right there with us, and that wherever they are in the heavens, they hear their name and know that they are missed.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book


Multiple marriages had produced but one child for Sister Wiley–the fruit of which was bitter–for as that child grew, her mother only grew lovelier.

Sexual sin, in the LDS Church, was second only to murder, for it murdered innocence, marriages, & sometimes, the unborn.

Poverty, Obedience, & Chastity were Catholic vows, but Chastity was the greatest of these when becoming a Mormon.

Mother would become Laurie Dalton, & I, if it were possible, would become Katryn Dalton for him.

There would be no more His & Hers, but Ours. However, we would not blend, but remain separate—Caitlin, hers, & David, mine.

David’s painting of Mother’s likeness had been unclear, while the objects surrounding her had been clearly delineated. It was I who was real to him.

That Night I’d seen David leave Caitlin’s room looking troubled would have no significance until The Day Caitlin told me about it.

Mother had never taken a candid snapshot of us, but rather, all we had were professional portraits, her girls posed & poised, like porcelain dolls.

Caitlin & I looked like child brides in the photos, Mother, a little girl herself. To find the mother I could love, I’d have to go way back.

My father’s red hair & beard looked like burnished gold in the sun, his fair image a sharp contrast to David’s virile one.

Because Tony & Kath had partaken of the forbidden fruits the other offered, according to Mother, they were good for no one else now.

Mother & David were shopping together, when it had always been I who had accompanied him. I was getting him, only to lose him in another way.

David’s hands began to stroke Mother’s legs, worshipping them as if they were the horns of the golden calf.

The Last Leaf

Navy mom

Betty Ann Booker: Apr. 23, 1953-Mar 6, 2018

I’ve always considered myself the unofficial family historian (my parents the genealogists). Documenting the lives of those I love has always been my way of honoring their memory.

Last night, my mom passed away following complications of pneumonia, which she contracted from a cracked rib she sustained in a car accident a month ago.

I am thirty-six years old, and still too young to lose my mom. My daughter is four, and too young to lose her grandma. I can’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t my mom’s time to go; the suddenness of it all makes it feel that way—the fact that I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye because I didn’t know the last time would be the last time.


My mom was a survivor, having beat breast cancer twice. The second time she told me she had it, I was distraught, for how often did lighting strike twice in the same place?

This time, when I found out she had a fractured rib, I thought, broken bones heal.

When I found out she had double pneumonia, I thought, Dad beat that (complete with a blood clot on his lung) seven years ago.

It wasn’t until she took her last breath in hospice that I accepted she was truly gone, after having pleaded with her to wake up, but she had already lapsed into a coma.

The same doctor who had saved my dad’s life seven years ago hadn’t been able to save hers.


Before she passed away, while she was still in ICU, I was able to read her a story—Many Moons, by James Thurber, my favorite children’s book (she liked it, too)—about a girl named Princess Lenore who asks her father for the moon to make her well. I’d thought about reading Small Town Girl, by LaVyrle Spencer—one of our favorite novels—but maybe, in my own way, I didn’t want to start what I didn’t believe I would finish.


I am so grateful for technology—that I was able to play my daughter’s laugh from a handful of videos I had uploaded to Facebook. I even sang Amazing Grace to her (with no one close enough to hear me, of course)—all things I have done with my daughter, who loves to laugh at herself.

My mom has always considered a sense of humor a vital character trait, and I like to think I get a little bit of that from her. I have learned that having one has nothing to do with your ability to laugh at something funny, but everything to do with being able to laugh at yourself.

I told her that I loved her, and to say hi to some people for me; I told her that I appreciated her more than she ever knew.

The last thing I did was play her favorite song (or one of them)—Saginaw, Michigan, by Lefty Frizzell. It didn’t even finish before she had gone.

I was told by one of the nurses that the hearing was the last to go, and so I am glad she was able to hear her granddaughter—the one she nicknamed Hannah Banana—one last time.

I remember thinking, Gee, I hope you were this glad when I was born! But every mother should want their mother to love their child so much.


Time with Mom while she was in the hospital became like silver, if all the silver in the world had been mined. It became as precious as life itself.

I am so sad there won’t be any more memories to be made with her, but I showed a picture of her to my daughter and asked her who she was. She immediately said “Grandma!” and when I asked her what Grandma did with her, she said, “Build an ark/arch!”

Whenever Grandma came over, Hannah would bring the blocks and Grandma would build with her.

I will show my daughter that picture every day and ask her who she is, and what she did with her, so that there won’t be a time Hannah won’t remember her.


Technology has taken over our lives, so I’ve always tried to live “in the moment,” and then write in retrospect, but I say to anyone who will listen—take more pictures, shoot more video. My brother’s girlfriend shot this past Christmas, and there is Mom, just a couple of months ago, hamming it up.

That, that was who she was.

My brother played some voicemails she left on his phone, which he will save forever—voicemails which I have asked him to send to me, because the fear that I may forget her voice makes me incredibly sad.

For now, I am trying to piece together a thousand little memories; every scrap of paper with her face on it has become priceless.

But she left behind so much more than memories—she taught me how to be a good person by being a good person. At the time of her accident, she was on her way to help a family member in need.

I will miss her, but not forever, because she is in the forever—that forever she taught me about–so that I could find some measure of peace amidst the seemingly insurmountable grief I am experiencing now.