Finally consigned to a group home,
My brother withdrew even deeper within himself,
Rarely lifting his eyes above the well-worn carpeting,
Rarely looking up from the lambent glow of his laptop,
Rarely responding with more than a nod or monosyllabic sop to propriety,
Blotting out the outside world with an eclipse of utter affectlessness.
Sphinx, obelisk, inscrutable blank, my brother,
My brother now anyway.
I could remember the vivacious shaggy-haired kid,
Who played hoops in the park late into the night,
When I carted him off on endless grocery runs
After the break,
When he wasn’t self-sufficient any longer.
Every time, I faced stony silence,
Though I eventually learned how to question him
To eke out a hard-won yes or no.
His schizophrenic break
Made him a cipher,
Someone society wouldn’t even shun,
Someone society would entirely forget, completely overlook.
His disease hollowed him
Made him seem like a desiccated husk of his former self,
A pallid pacer who shuffled around aimlessly.
But when I’d pick him up
To take him out for groceries every Monday
I could recognize a spark in his eyes.
It was faint; it was fleeting,
But the brother I had known was still rattling around in there somewhere.
Joseph S. Pete is an award-winning journalist, Indiana University graduate and Iraq War veteran. He was named poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest, a feat that Milton chump never once accomplished. His literary work has appeared in Dogzplot, Pour Vida, Fictitious, The Vignette Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency and elsewhere. He once Googled the Iowa Writers' Workshop.