Dad Died with a Full Suitcase


Packed for that trip to Scotland
he’d planned for a decade.

I can picture his sock balls
nestled together,
his tennis whites,
his plaid pants and colorful polo shirts,
boxes of Titleists and plastic tees,
and directions to St. Andrews.

His hopes were crammed in there too,
tucked into the elasticized sides:
Peace and quiet.
Not being told to stop fights between
the mother and the brats.
Not being told he should be home more,
that he was too involved in sports,
that even when home he watched football.
That he shouldn’t eat that buttery bear claw—
it was bad for his cholesterol.
That the music he liked made a racket.
That it was annoying when
he whistled in the kitchen making tea.

I’m a lot like him.
I whistle while I’m cooking.
I love football and yell
“Way to go, baby dogs!” like he did.
I also eat the occasional pastry.
But I’m not planning a trip anytime soon.


Suzanne O’Connell’s recently published work can be found in Drunk Monkeys, Wrath Bearing Tree, Paterson Literary Review, North American Review, Poet Lore, The Summerset Review, Good Works Review and Pudding Magazine. O’Connell was awarded second place in the Poetry Super Highway poetry contest, 2019. She was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. Her two poetry collections, A Prayer for Torn Stockings and What Luck, were published by Garden Oak Press.

Michaela Kessler comments: “This piece was painted with acrylics on canvas paper. The subject matter is night life on the Fourth of July. The artist sought to capture how lively and colorful the dark can be, even from a distance. Every dot and color has been hand placed to emulate a real bustling city.”