When the News Came


When the News Came

My father died of an opioid overdose in January— the 11th, 2011.  It was a pharmacist's mistake at the nursing home.  He was 87.

 My daughter's only love died of an opioid overdose— on his 21st birthday.  It was an accident.  His parents found him in his bed.  It was summer.  It was an end to her— I sometimes think....

 My mother simply died two years ago— so old and tired at 93.  I had driven like a mad woman to say good-bye and good-night to her, to see her, hold her, one last time. 

I wheeled her tiny frame out into the garden of that  dingy care home and sang to her— with her songs from her Irish parents— once sung to her and then to me— One, of a “little toy dog, covered with dust but sturdy and staunch he stands” and a rusty toy soldier, faithfully waiting, whose musket molds in his hands.”  I sang the one about the poor maiden with her "wheel barrow, on streets wide and narrow, singing cockles and shockles, alive alive, O... Alive alive O...... singing cockles and shockles, Alive alive O."

I sang to her about the angels and the coral bells of heaven too.  But when the angels finally came to sing for her, I was not there— an off-week from my travels.  Always flashed our lights, and I beeped my horn, driving away, leaving our blessings hanging in the darkness.

When the news came, I was not driving to or from.  It was 6:00 AM to waken me three states away.

 ...And then, there was my cat, Bailey, who was always by my side, walking by the river disappeared and— died— probably poisoned or maybe a car. I thought I would explode, a nebula of grief and weeping. 

What-the-hell is the matter with me! Is that what it took to contract the universe... release the hemorrhage of tears... to bring the stars back home?



Elizabeth Balise 


Elizabeth Balise is a long-time resident of Scranton, Pennsylvania who grew up in Western Massachusetts. Most of her working life has been devoted to human services and to teaching English in public schools. She has now retired to the River and her “Tall Cottage” of Florin Street to write, make art, and love her two cats.  

Poetry entered as a teenager, when she received an honorable mention in the Nancy Thorp Poetry contest of Hollin’s Colege in 1967-‘68.  But real love for the art of it was fostered by her relationship with her Marywood College mentor, Barbara Hoffman. A solitary writer when not in front of a classroom, she filled  journals and canvas bags with scraps of life, thinking always, “They must mean something?”

Poems, short stories, and articles have appeared in ergo magazine of the old Prufrock’s Cafe in Scranton, PA, where she read at their monthly gatherings.  One of her poems was selected for the anthology of the Mulberry Poets and Writers, Palpable Clock, University of Scranton Press. Online work has been published in SWITCH 2017, Ariel Chart, 2020, Thirteen Myna Birds, 2020, and  also in Mothers Aways Write, October 2019.  Her work has been included in the journal published annually by Poets Live of Scranton.  

In September of 2019, She was a featured poet for the United States and Canada for The Blue Nib. Recently, she completed her third volume of poems, published privately. 


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