My Brother’s Keeper

I call you on the phone
every few months
fulfilling my duty with my uh-huhs
you are verbose and tell me
about your call this morning to the State Department
and you remind me
the President relies upon you for advice


I want to speak up and tell you
that you were missed at Thanksgiving— again
and your niece’s wedding
but I don’t dare rock your boat
because it’s as fragile as gossamer wings
I stay silent and swallow my words


And though you have a rare talent
with your camera—
capturing beauty that I can’t begin to see—
a lone cypress bathed in fog,
water spraying on beach rocks,
the wink of moonlight on the Golden Gate Bridge
your gift is squandered
like everything else in your life


So I wait for the shoe that falls every so often
and attempt to fix whatever it is
and explain your situation
and pray the police don’t get called


And I wipe tears that fall unexpectedly
when I’m driving
or on the treadmill at the gym
and ache from the anvil
that resides permanently in my heart
and wonder about the unfairness of
you wanting to save the world
when you can’t seem to save yourself



Editor’s Note: This poem is one of a few published to Refuat Hanefesh by Joanne touching on the life of her brother and his mental illness. Please see Joanne’s author page for further moving pieces and check back for the continued publishing of Joanne’s work.


Joanne Jagoda

After retiring in 2009, one inspiring writing workshop launched Joanne Jagoda of Oakland, California on an unexpected writing trajectory. Her short stories, poetry and nonfiction appear on-line and in print anthologies including A Poet’s Siddur, Pure Slush, Better After 50. and Persimmon Tree Magazine. In 2015, her poem, “Mr. Avocado Man” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Joanne continues taking a variety of Bay Area writing classes, enjoys Zumba, traveling and spoiling her seven grandchildren, who call her “Savta.”
Joanne Jagoda

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