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MADMAN by Anne Seymour Williams

She always loved her daddy
he abandoned
the family when she was eight,
a trucker
who fell in love with the ladies on the road.

She soon found
her mother
on the kitchen floor
full of barbiturates and alcohol.
swore she would
never treat her
children that way.

when she met
the Madman
she was tending
bar at a strip joint.
he was older,
seemed smarter
stripped
her of rights and reason.

he loved
her the way she had grown accustomed
to by those who had gone before:
Hard, Unhappy Love.
told her how stupid
she was, useless
good for only one thing.

she took solace
in her children, bearing
four before having her tubes
tied at the age of 30.

Is there more out there?
Can I have some of it?
Am I worthy?

she would ask me
when I called her at work.
Supercuts on Route 31
Monday and Wednesday from 5 to 9
(the only time we were allowed to talk).

she volunteered
at the Y.M.C.A. Pre-School,
was a member of Grace
Bible Baptist Church where she went to escape brutality.

she tried
to be The Good Wife,
The Great Mother,

even after she was beaten,
accused
of Fucking Everyone

(her family said: there’s nothing we can do)

and now I can see her sad smile splattered
across the bathroom tile

cold
naked
alone

four small witnesses
downstairs huddled
together

panicked
confused
alone

outside
the madman
pumps his shotgun one last time.