“If I Am Remembered Like Joyce Carol Vincent,” a poem

For my poem, feel free to check out this article on Joyce Carol Vincent and the documentary on her mysterious life. It moved me so much… Thank you for reading, and please enjoy this unedited poem. I plan to revise it soon.

If I Am Remembered Like Joyce Carol Vincent

When I read about Joyce Carol Vincent, I found myself repeating Lianne La Havas’ melodies over and over. I imagined her hypnotic voice resembled Joyce’s. I imagined Joyce was Lianne, both of them more beautiful than the sky. I imagined I could touch Joyce’s face through Lianne’s voice. I imagined Joyce smiled.

Joyce’s skeleton was found decomposed and forgotten. What I imagined was fiction, and it brought me to tears. I stood at my window, then paced the room until I collapsed in a heat of anger. I was angry. I couldn’t tell myself why.

Joyce’s death went unnoticed for three years. My departure from home to another coast went unnoticed for one. My absence to my family was like the nodding of the head; a simple stillness. When I left Los Angeles, my father had left years before, getting married in the homeland without telling my sister or me. He still frequents Los Angeles and the Philippines, staying here and there for this month and that month, working back home and living on islands. He is a skeleton in Los Angeles. He lives only in the heat of anger. I realized that years ago.

When I graduated from college, I had realized I would have no home to return to. The blue house on Neptune Avenue had been foreclosed, and my father told me he was married on the afternoon we lost it. When I graduated from college with half a mountain of debt, I married without telling my father. I moved to another coast because of the military. I transitioned into the same life—a skeleton in Los Angeles, living in the heat of anger on another coast.

I read the article on Joyce’s death again. I had stopped the tantrums, the heaving. I had gotten up and begun swaying in the living room’s light. My husband had not come home yet. If I had died in that moment, I told myself repeatedly I would die in the heat of anger. I will die in the heat of anger. I will die like Joyce Carol Vincent, in the heat of anger against the world.

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