M.J. Iuppa

Wincing in the Dark
At five years old, she ran away with her red leather circle suitcase, full
of 45’s and white cotton underpants, and pearl toothbrush and small
tube of paste. She didn’t want to go back inside.  She wanted out of ear-
shot of her sister’s constant pester. She was her night terror. O
nice, not so nice— she got her comedic timing at the expense of others.
Everyone laughed & shook their heads at what she said— not looking
at anyone directly was her bull’s eye. She’d give a side-long glance
and smirk, knowing she could hit without leaving a mark.

Word Gets Around
Her sister died of heart failure. Now, at a year anniversary, she wondered
If she should confess that she thinks of her— she felt spent.  No one heard
their last exchange: phone call to invite her to lunch turned into an attack.
She, living with cancer, willed herself to move forward day by day, while
her sister, who had too much time, believed she would be dead in three weeks.
She cursed her without saying good bye, leaving her stunned by her cruel
words. Yet, she didn’t die, still here. Her sister, with fists full of natural
remedies, died alone.

M.J. Iuppa’s fifth full length poetry collection The Weight of Air (Kelsay Books) was released in September 2022; a chapbook of 24 100-word stories, Rock. Paper. Scissors., is forthcoming from Foothills Publishing. For the past 34 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

Editor's Note: I have just received word that Mary Jo passed away on April 26 after a five year battle with ovarian cancer. She has been a regular & valued contributor to Otoliths for many years. My deepest sympathies to her family.
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