Lee Breuer dies I clean my stove top

Patricia Spears Jones


Clove calls me at 10 a.m. or so.  She lives in California.

Her voice is rumbling.  Sad volume. You should know

That Lee is in hospice.  I did not know that Lee is in hospice

She says she had time to sit and talk to her father.

Her brothers had time to sit and talk to their father.

What a Luxury.  A break from distance placed between

The living and the dying, those pandemic built walls,

But this is cancer. This is organ failure. This is old age.

This dying.  Thus, the family makes traditional gestures

For an unconventional man.  His muses living and dead

Most likely shout him quiet.  And the fast-talking man

Is mute.

Who sparks your path is always a factor of fortune.

Good fortune and light remains lit no matter the brambles.

Bad and all is shadow and stumble and loss.  Oh fortune

For me was good and I clean my stove top.  The old

Stove’s top has age stains and boiling over pots stories

And memories of landing feet first in the muck of art making.

Every memory a pebble, stone, rock of learning.  Lions

Die in quiet or in roar.  Lions die.  That light moves

To one more and one more and more—pilot light.

Yes,  pilot light.


. For Clove and her brothers


Patricia Spears Jones is poet, playwright, anthologist, educator, and cultural activist is the winner of the 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers. She is author of A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems and ten other poetry collections and in anthologies such as Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin; 2017 Pushcart Prize XLI, Best of Small Presses; and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. Poems recently published in The New Yorker, The Brooklyn Rail; Ms. Muse, and CUTTHROAT: A Journal of the Arts. She edited THINK: Poems for Aretha Franklin Inauguration Day Hat and Ordinary Women: An Anthology of New York City Women Poets. She has taught at Community of Writers, Truro Center for the Arts, Fine Arts Work Center, Gemini Ink, Brooklyn Poets and at Adelphi University, CUNY,  and Barnard College. She is organizer of the American Poets Congress and is a Senior Fellow Emeritus of the Black Earth Institute. www.psjones.com.

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