no-one in my family has died a simple death by Josephine LoRe

Poem title: no-one in my family has died a simple death Poet: Josephine LoRe Poem: my father’s grandfather was a wick, the oil in his headlamp igniting when a vein opened in the sulphur mine. four men carried his char home to die my mother’s mother was the breath after blowing out a candle. thick black hair in a high bun but weak of lungs. no medicine to cure her my mother’s father was a mystery. is there a gravesite, a church record, his name on a ship’s manifest? fair skin belies his ancestry: freckles, eyes of blue or green like the sea my father’s father was a glass of water crashing to the floor. he died once but was buried twice. once in the ground at Mt Pleasant, then later in a drawer in a concrete wall in the old Sicilian style my father’s mother was a plume of smoke. she faded in stages, stroke taking away her ability to walk, to eat, to recognize. by the time her heart stopped, I had grieved her a thousand times my father is a cat on life six or seven. heart attack, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, coalmine lungs. airport collapse … cardiac ablation. they cauterized tissue round his heart (scar not conveying the impulse to live). now ischemia constricts the vessels in his brain. how are you? and the kids? and the weather? and the kids? my mother is a wristwatch with broken hands. she tricks death by believing herself invincible. tosses an enchantment of salt onto black ice. we watch her decline, gears and springs seized and stuck, losing her piece by piece they say you die twice. according to Bansky, once when you stop breathing; the second, the last time someone says your name myself. Josephine Lia LoRe. How will I go? Will I fight death or will I walk headlong into that slow-moving river, willow branch above me swaying in the wind? End of Poem. Credits: Copyright © Josephine LoRe Appears in the League of Canadian Poets’ Fresh Voices 21, edited by Joan Conway and Blaine Marchand a pearl in this diamond world … Josephine LoRe has published two collections, Unity and The Cowichan Series, a Calgary Herald Bestseller. Her words have been read on stage and on screen, put to music, danced, interpreted into visual art and expressed through American Sign Language. Her work appears in FreeFall Literary Magazine and in journals and collections in ten countries including England, Ireland, France, the US, Japan, India, Wales, and most recently Italy. Her poem “the tea set” was shortlisted for the 2019 Room Poetry Prize. She created a haiku concertina this summer which is on display in a Calgary gallery until mid-December, and a number of her pieces appear in pandemic anthologies. She is working on a collection based on her Sicilian heritage. Josephine has an MA in Comparative Literature from l’Université de Rouen.


This poem first appeared in Fresh Voices 21, a project from and for the League’s associate members, edited by Joan Conway (Check out her personal blog!) and Blaine Marchand. The League’s associate members are talented poets who are writing and publishing poetry on their way to becoming established professional poets in the Canadian literary community. We are excited to be taking this opportunity to showcase the work of our associate members in this series!

Fresh Voices 21 includes poetry by: Lisa Alletson, Moni Brar, Neall Calvert, Melanie Flores, Michelle Hillyard, Frank Klaassen, Joseph LaBine, Josephine LoRe, John Oross and Nan Williamson.

Check out Fresh Voices 21