Old Habits



My grandpa ate at Dallas Chicken and Biscuits
every day for twenty years. When I return home
I stop there because it feels too strange to just drive by.

Most of the men I used to see there are gone,
passed on or moved to a retirement home down the road.

Gone are the days of this place being full of cynical old men
drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes
while joking about their oxygen tanks exploding.


My best friend is my age, almost thirty.
She still lives with her parents.
From her bedroom window I can see
what used to be my great-grandmother’s backyard.

This yard is where my grandpa cut off his thumb while trimming branches from a tree.
I was sitting in the carport cranking ice cream when he had the accident.
I continued cranking the ice cream as he was rushed to the hospital.


My great-grandmother cooked the same delicious things
for special occasions: corn pudding and sweet potato pie.
After her funeral the women took over her kitchen
and tried their luck with those recipes.

The men went through the house flipping over furniture.
They were searching for names written on the bottom.
That’s how our inheritances worked – no contract,
just a name and a note – the knowledge that dying’s hard work
and it’s best to keep the cleanup easy.

Kelly Jones / March - April  2016 Issue