Charles T. Payne (1936-1999)

This year, 2015, Mothers Day falls on my brother’s birth date.  I would like to remember him on this date.  He was a troublesome Taurus. But he was in my life.


My brother needs at least

a poem

queer small swimmer painter pianist

coulda been a winner

in another time

another father or

a mother (my mother too)

who had not been acquitted of homicide

and still later remarried

and expected you to get a job in the government

whatever else you did with

your prodigious gifts.

you chose air force. error.

discharged and trained as a draftsman. dried your soul.

29 years at the pentagon, witnessed in ‘59 the loss to fire of the ‘secret data.’ not a day without vodka.

died from its ravages

queer small swimmer painter pianist

with your military so-long-salute somewhere in virginia.

your butch colleague

her uncomfortable skirt and wooden shoes

–a heart-wringing eulogy.

two of our sisters offer more oblique praise. the

other two of us suppress our funereal corniness.

mother hid her blindness behind her usual glamour.

for the second time I met your daughter, painter and singer, dying of lupus, holding your flag to her breast. her own daughter shipping to afghanistan in august.




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