Forgiveness Takes a Lifetime to Master

If 60 convicts can save a puppy from a sewage drain
In the rain
In chains
The DA breathing down their necks,
And you can find a reason to break cake
In a TV funhouse where cheese mutates to bread
And you can remember 11 years later
Feeding lemons to your daughter
To negotiate the slaughter of whatever protests she might have made

And it doesn’t make the ground beneath you shake
And it doesn’t make you die a thousand times
For every smile you might have missed
For every cheek that wasn’t pinched

If you can warn the clerks about Muslims with shaved arms and chests
Or stand like Gandolf at the security gate screaming,
You shall not pass,
If you can deliver a clemency sentence 10 seconds
Before the poison gas
To a man who deserves to burn
Then surely you can escape the internal death row
You call home and condemned yourself

Neighborhood Map of Austin

I did not design this map, but whoever did, thank you.

Rescued Dog Needs Your Help


Her lawyer boyfriend's favorite word. He shakes it over his sentences like seasoning.

Always she wakes before him because words are restless beasts impatient in their sheets, although she hates to leave the bed and the soft womb of safety she can only identity with him.

He'll slip out of his bat cave close to ten to complain about his sleep. A whale-shaped cat at the foot of his feet. Sinus, allergies, Austin, the rain. The phlegm at the back of his throat. The sheets need a clean. And her with her anxious dreams, the weight of wounds old but fresh and crying out, help. Help. And he does, he always does, he insists, to the detriment of his own rest.

He'll gather his keys and ask her what she wants from Starbucks, although it's always the same thing.

He'll return and they'll huddle on the couch before he takes off to the other room to play or write wills or send resumes attached with cover letters, waiting for the game to start. One day our lives will be better, he promises as the ice sinks into the glass.

She will try and write another book or catch up on work. Maybe get her hair cut. Maybe not. She thinks to check for theater times. Change the litter box. Find out when the football starts, then devise an escape plan. Oh, and is she due to call her dad? The endless limitations of possibilities whirl inside her cup of chai.

The afternoon sets in, and before they know it, a dewy night creeps under the blinds, shutting down another arbitrary day in the purgatory heaven they've made.

Her favorite word is nonchalant, although she never uses it.

Erin Passons, 10-31-2015

Two Days Before D-Day 71 Years Later

One day I will actually sit down and scribe this poem into a legible document. Oh who am I kidding? I probably won’t. But I sort of like it the way it is, raw and messy and deeply flawed. I wrote this on the way home from Vegas last June.

Praise You

I heard from a mutual friend that you had a kid and I thought, great, another Republican

Born into the world locked and loaded.

Down here in blueberry land we gang up on the crossing guards. Two feet flat I never doubt I am the majority. My stiff upper lip can get pretty limp from its idleness but when I go back to Mississippi, oh boy, watch out.

I’m surprised you visit Austin. I bet your Bible boils in your back pocket along with your 420 cigarettes.

You hypocrite.

I never liked the way you pouted your lips at men you swore you’d never sleep with. I never liked how ashamed I felt at asking you for favors, even though we split the Claire’s Boutique best friend necklace straight down the middle in middle school and for a while there never looked back.

You want religion? Try this: one day thou beautiful face will no longer erase thy ugly brain underneath. Your racist thoughts and slutty parts and the murky past you tiptoe around like a polluted lake will come rushing out like fits of rain in Noah’s chapter of the book written by the God you try to steal from people far more deserving.

Erin Passons, 10-2015


The bright-walled amphitheater of the luxury cruise liner school makes my marriage prison break feel like a hall pass handed out with a menacing threat.

It tickles the brain. I want to laugh at the elbow pain. I blink a tired eye and marvel at how hard I fought to fall flat on my face at rock bottom.

She zooms past, holding the limp hand of her daughter scrambling behind her. The daughter holds a silver plated water bottle bearing her name, “ANGELIQUE.”

Her mother glances over her shoulder and her face lights up with the kind of wide-eyed wonder reserved only for mothers realizing they are in the company of other mothers with children similar in age.

We scramble down the hallway exchanging the stats of our children. Fourth grade, third grade. New to the school district, three years in. We were at basketball camp last year. This is our first time.

Do you live nearby, she asks. We live in River Oaks.

I picture her house: a white-stoned fortress with a circular driveway. Deer grazing in the yard. An easy breezy morning enjoying the dimmed October sunshine on the back patio.

I live in the part of town one moves to when they can't afford a good divorce lawyer, I tell her, putting a positive spin on the midnight cries of car alarms and the sidewalk art of vagrant amputees and the stripper dope femme across the hall who throws empty liquor bottles at her boyfriend when he tries to leave.

We’ve all been there, she laughs, but I doubt that.

I notice this about myself—I look down a lot when I am with these women. I probably know the tile pattern of every floor in Westlake.

I am suddenly self-conscious that my hair hasn’t properly been colored and cut in years. That my face is blotchy red and dead without exfoliation facial care of any kind.

She’s chatting and walking fast and thankfully doesn’t seem to notice me tuck my ratty purse under a cardigan whose strings are coming loose at the pits. And my pits aren’t shaved, I think. I’m a bottom dwelling, stinky, hairy mess.

But I decide sitting down next to the woman and her immaculate purse I’ll still wave at my son from the stands, even if he doesn’t score a single point, even if he’s benched from start to go and he only uses his hands to peel off the paper of his hastily bought plastic water bottle, just so he’ll know I’m here and I’m not going anywhere and just because I decided to fall doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how to stand.

Erin Passons, 10-2015


I removed the yellow nail polish my blunt friend said looked like toe fungus this morning in a dimly lit room (my preteen daughter hovering nearby on her phone) not knowing the sick butter shade had stained the flesh above and below until some hours later when my daughter and I went shopping for a book for her language arts class at an outside galleria where I had taken her as a baby to play in the sprinklers surrounding the marble gazebo - her laugh, her brazen, carefree laugh- I'll never forget it - but today she's a leggy box of subdued dynamite, a reflection of my lessons and failures, and I walked ahead knowing the dread she must feel at being seen with her mother, and the September sun (stubbornly hanging on for football season) spotlighted the rotten lemon tone of skin I thought I had wiped away and I wondered if I had removed it too late or if I should even have bothered.

-Erin Passons, 9-2015
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