Call Home: Poems by Judy Wells

Praise for Call Home

The comic genius of Judy Wells takes a serious turn in Call Home. Ninety-two-year-old Irene announces to her children that she is dying, and so the wake begins with the waggish matriarch in full attendance.

In thirty-two poetic vignettes, Judy Wells tells the story of an Irish-American mother who has endowed her clan with a sense of drama and high humor that will prepare them to negotiate the pitfalls of property inheritance and re-negotiate what it means to be a family after the funeral. Call Home tells a deeply touching tale with universal relevance. —Bridget Connelly, Ph.D., Author of Forgetting Ireland named a Best Book of 2003
by the Irish Times

I cried as I read the poems in Call Home, both for their poignancy and how beautifully they captured the bittersweet experience of dealing with death, dying, letting go and moving on. I think the wonderful thing that Judy Wells has captured is the universality of the experience of losing a parent, facing one's own mortality and vulnerability, and having to face it with one's siblings, while also dealing with whatever unresolved sibling issues that may arise as well.—Mary McCall, Ph.D. in Human Development and Aging Professor, Psychology Department, Saint Mary's College of California
There are no extraterrestrials in Call Home, only a family whose aged matriarch passes into eternity, leaving three daughters and a son. If this sounds like a downer, it isn't. Judy Wells's deep love for her family and the enduring "rock" of her childhood keep her book alive with sentiment and gentle humor. Call Home is a novel of charm and heartstrings — except that it was written as verse. Mither, pass the poetry.—Jack Foley, Poet, KPFA Literary Host

Today at 899 Willow
my brother
while cleaning out the kitchen closet,
amidst old cans of Campbell's soup,
saran wrap, and childhood valentines,
came across
the top of an ancient wedding cake
in a box.
"It's mom and dad's!" he yelled.

But Mimi thought it looked familiar—
compared the fluffy white-skirted
little bride and the groom in tux
to a photo she had of her wedding.
It was her cake top, all right,
40 years old, and mom had saved it.
My brother wanted to cut into Mimi's cake.
"It's still moist!" said Mel.

Then he found Nancy's wedding cake top
in another box—
all roses and pillars
with a little vase on top for flowers.
Nancy was modern,
hadn't wanted a bride and groom.
This cake was only 35 years old.

Then my brother found the pièce de résistance.
Mom and dad's wedding cake—
64 years old!
"It's petrified!" I yelled, poking it,
and noting the elegant 30s slim dress
on the bride, the slender groom in tux.
Big sugar roses surrounded them,
and beneath this top plate
was a circle of dark fruit cake
on another plate.
"Still good," said Nancy.

Dale took a photo of the four of us,
Mimi, Nancy, Judy, and Mel,
holding all the cakes,
representing something like
140 years of marriage.
Only I have escaped this fate
though I thought later
after the camera's flash,
I'd like that elegant 30s bride and groom
on my and Dale's wedding cake one day.

"Something old, something new,
something borrowed, something blue."
They were old all right,
they'd be borrowed.
As for new and blue—
we'd have to get something else,
unless the mold begins to grow
on that dark fruit cake—
then we'd have everything.