Vox Populi

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Lisa Zimmerman: Missing Billy

I think about your scrawny addict’s body,
that nervous leftover crackling, how it worked
its way into your southern cuisine, you lost
in your white chef’s jacket shouting joyfully
over the kitchen din about garlic plucked yesterday,
lettuce so tender it almost made you cry.
You held an heirloom tomato big as your heart
still beating then in spite of years on heroin.

You wore sobriety like a t-shirt
with the sleeves hacked off. Some days
you dozed mid-sentence while we were talking
and I knew you’d found oxycontin or fentanyl
somewhere in town. How it would price you
out of two sons and their beautiful mother.

Oh, but your braised brisket! Your mac and four-cheeses!
Your rich cloud of chocolate mousse, jambalaya
steaming in a giant pot. Just to hear you call
my name across tiers of fresh produce in Whole Foods,
your basket filled with organic shitake mushrooms, tiny
yellow summer squash, bags of basmati rice, three
sweet vinegars, parsley flowing over the edge like lace.
Oh, Billy, just to feel your skinny arms briefly around me.

Copyright 2023 Lisa Zimmerman

Lisa Zimmerman’s many books include Sainted (Main Street Rag 2021). She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado where she is a professor at the University of Northern Colorado. 

Lisa Zimmerman

19 comments on “Lisa Zimmerman: Missing Billy

  1. Rose Mary Boehm
    January 16, 2023

    So very moving.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. melpacker
    January 16, 2023

    So powerful….

    Liked by 3 people

  3. matthewjayparker
    January 16, 2023

    A lovely reflection on such senseless personal loss as well as an elegy to all the addicts whose names we never knew, and now never will.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Vox Populi
      January 16, 2023

      Yes, the opioid epidemic is still raging although the media has largely stopped covering it.


      Liked by 3 people

  4. Rosemerry
    January 16, 2023

    oh friend, such a poem. oh that final embrace. so much love and compassion in this.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Eva Simms
    January 16, 2023

    You speak for so many of us. I cried at the end too…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Richard Cambridge-Gawel
    January 16, 2023

    What a bittersweet poem. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Gerry Gil
    January 16, 2023

    Beautiful and now I am crying.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Susan Zimmerman
    January 16, 2023

    Wonderful poem!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thomas A Thomas
    January 16, 2023

    Now I miss Billy too. Thank you for these good tears.

    Liked by 1 person

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