by Thomas R. Thomas 

I remember the Brethren church in LA
where my Mom and Grandma grew up.
It was one of those old wooden
churches with back stairs and
an attic to hide in.
It was before I started
school, and once a week
Mommy would go to the WMC
and I would sit at her feet,
playing all day with the
same toy. I would explore
those back stairs, and
crawl through the attic.
On Sundays Grandma would stand
at the front of the church and
sing solos like an angel, and
I would lay with my head
on Mommy’s breast.
I wonder how those beautiful
songs of peace and joy could
come out of her mouth when
inside she was so cold and dark.
My mother was captured by
that cold darkness like she
was captured by the cigarettes
that sat in her drawer, and we
never once saw them in her mouth,
years later telling the Doctor in front
of my sister that she never smoked.
Now I hold their hands, and walk
Those stairs, open the attic doors.
We feel the cold rush of air,
And gaze into the shadows.


“Back Stairs” appears in Thomas R. Thomas‘s new collection Five Lines (World Parade Books, October 2013), available at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Thomas R. Thomas was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the San Gabriel Valley west of LA. Currently, he lives in Long Beach, California. For his day job, he is a software QA Analyst. He volunteers for Tebot Bach, a community poetry organization, in Huntington Beach. Thomas has been published in Don’t Blame the Ugly Mug: 10 Years of 2 Idiots Peddling Poetry, Creepy Gnome, Carnival, Pipe Dream, Bank Heavy Press, Conceit Magazine, Electric Windmill & Marco Polo, and the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology. In November 2012, Carnival released his eChapbook, Scorpio, and Washing Machine Press released a chapbooklette called Tanka. In October 2013, World Parade Books published a book of his poetry, Five Lines. Visit the author’s website at

Photo: “A Staircase in Silhouette Against a Yellow Stained Glass Window” by David Evans. Prints available at