J. Adams Lagana

Regarding Matthew


He bore our family traits,

stubbornness, and eyes as blue

as the Atlantic in September. I thought

we were a loving bunch,

but we were angry instead. 


Spare me your half-hearted compliments,

he once shouted towards his tight-lipped

God-fearing mother, who was always drenched in black sweaters

with kleenex-stuffed sleeves, who never offered quite the right comforts.

I thought

we were a loving bunch,

but we were angry instead.


Don’t you see me?, he cried in utter frustration

towards a father, who never appeared

when promised.  (My cousin lived

too many brooding, solitary days.)  I liked

the wispy tattooed love who spouted

humor and tried to point him

toward life’s sunnier side, (then broke

his heart for someone more spectacular). To them,

he shouted, Spare me your half-hearted

complements, his voice bursting like luminescent fireworks

floating over darkening waters.                                                                     


Not long after, he ditched the pills, ignored his therapist,

gave in to those brooding, solitary ways,

walked into a rush

of cracked mussel shells and tide

until the ocean

overtook him.


I thought

we were a loving bunch

     but we were angry instead. 


He was found along the beach and eventually.


He once told me all compliments

are meaningless.         That they’re half-hearted, empty. Jesus,

please, he said, spare me.





How Anxiety Interferes


First, it urges you

to rip up every photo of the dead

so that you are really done with them.

It argues that desire and memory

are a waste of time. It plays with your breathing, nags you

to bury the kitchen table, to start throwing pieces

of silverware into the Delaware once the Snow Moon

rises. It demands you make an offering

for every moment that didn’t turn into

what you had hoped. Later, it becomes about fear.

Of death, or bad decisions, of losing your teeth, your breath.

Of forgoing your sense of direction.


In this moment. the rattle of street gravel kicking up,

the rumble of the garbage truck working its way

up the street, the heat kicking in, the radio, too loud, the day,

wide open. Go drive with the windows down

over the toll bridge. Listen for the chiming

of river water moving

through ice.


Worry won’t let you see

that everything moves forward.


But it does.


Like geese flying somberly

through cold night in a sky

that is gradually brightening.



We think we see you

in passing, the man by the pond,

the driver in the fast lane, the gentleman

moving past us at the grocery store.

We search everywhere

for signs, are sure the blackbirds resting

on the water tower when we walk by,

and that four-wheel jeep driving

an unusually empty road are messages

from you. That song again, twice

on the radio, the one

I would never think

could make me cry. In this house

trapped breezes count for something. A rush,

cool and caught, after the screen door snaps shut

signals another storm. The pines are frantic

thrashing the roof, readying for another struggle

weighted in part by the dead

branches left behind

from last winter’s fury.


Another trapped breeze,

passes through the kitchen,

ignores the dishes,

settles near the hallway. We maybe give

slight pause, our chatter and laughter

not to be confused

with even mild cheer.

J. Adams Lagana’s poetry has appeared in Atlanta Review, the Ekphrastic Review, Naugatuck River Review, the Paterson Literary Review, and others.  She is the co-editor of River Heron Review and lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (USA) with her family.