Father and Son

Dreamers Are Gluttons




Over  A Bowl Of Potato And Corn Soup, Mr. Marvin Tells Me How He Castrated Baby Goats


Love Poem #1

Leather Death Fruit and Flying -- A Consideration

The Mechanic Takes on Language

135th & Crossing

It Could've Been

Kermit's Jazz

The Muse



In Time

Bottomed Out Language

Such Fears

Spreading Out Histories

Days Unfold

There is a Flutter of Noise in My Head




A person loses his innocence when he realizes he doesn't have to forgive, M.R.


I wander through life like my mother's first child

born without a name, half a lung, and no liver. 

My sister's never spoken of.  Why should anyone talk

about that baby whose name was just chosen for the headstone?

My own history is there on that man-made beach

on Lake Erie with its water I almost didn't get into;

it's in that 72 Skylark heading down back roads,

past near naked children playing hide-n-seek

behind the frame of an old Ford pickup

while chickens pecked at mud-crusted toes;

it's here, on this porch, in these hands

which are too rough to caress my wife with.


I'm forty and still haven't seen the headstone

my sister's name is carved on.  I wonder if she was buried

in a Sunday dress, something with ruffles on the sleeves,

around the neck, and matching socks with ruffles,

and black shoes still smelling of the box

they came in; or maybe nothing so sophisticated.

Maybe she's in a pink sleeper with a zipper

up the back and plastic on her feet.  I wonder

if my mother returned all the gifts given to her at the shower,

just as she gave her daughter back to silence.   

That must have been difficult: to ruffle through

all those boxes of clothes and thin paper, the Styrofoam peanuts

and good luck cards, the rattle, the pacifier, the hand built crib.


Afterward, I’m sure she returned

to the routines she swore off as a child,

just to make it through the long days 

that spun out like buoys in a body of water.  She’d get up,

clean the apartment, go to work.  I’ve read that the cells

of each child stay in the mother’s body, distinct, intact,

share space in that holy darkness--my sister

and I, named and unnamed, cautious of our liquid edges

and still moving in, one small step at a time.


Originally published in Karamu

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