Family had always been most important to him.
He always said he needed them to live.
That was before they crossed him.
That was before he found her lying there,
in satin sheets given as a wedding present.
He guessed she thought the gift was meant to share.
Gertrude always said she shouldn’t have married him:
girls should listen to their mothers.
He never could stand her visits
accompanied by too much old lady perfume
and mustiness that only comes from old lady attic.
The children, how he had loved them,
bringing them presents from business trips
and watching their eyes light up
when he was around.
Very seldom was he around.
In the darkness of the bedroom closet
they sat facing each other
she whispered to him that the children
were not his but her lover’s.
She said things could have been better
If they had taken more time for each other.
She had only done what she had to do.
He wanted it done without shame,
No mess, no screaming, no pain.
He’d slipped the pills in the vegetable soup
Prelude to the meal no one got to enjoy
They’d slouched in their own laps,
two children, once beautiful
now in death looked like their real father.
Vengeance placed two pills in Gertrude’s bowl,
he’d always hated his mother-in-law.
He smiled to think not everyone properly cared
for the ones that got in the way.
He was different, was smarter
than all the men who put up
with the burden of in-laws by
rolling their eyes or biting their tongues.
He would eliminate all annoyance,
Unlike other men who would try
to watch the Sunday afternoon football game while
listening to the Gertrudes of the world
pester them about weedwacking along the sidewalk,
or taking empty beer cans to the curb.
And as for his wife,
she should have seen
the way he glared at her in the dark.
He was sure his eyes were glowing with anger
It was her fault because she never looked him
in the eyes anymore
Later he loaded them into the minivan,
they took a little family trip
to the police station where he dropped them off,
and said he didn’t want them
This poem was written in the late 90s. In my college poetry class, the assignment was to write a poem based off of a story in the newspaper. An unidentified man turned up at a police station Feb. 7 with the bodies of four people he said he had killed. The man produced the bodies of two children and two women in a van at the police station. The victims were the man’s two children, his wife and her mother. He admitted killing the four people but apparently gave no explanation as to why, when, how or where he killed them.