Day 3: Dickinson, Mundo, Davis, Piatt celebrate National Poetry Month

The Literate Slave

Piss and shit stain the dawn,
the bloated body hangs like an empty sack.
The mouth is gaped, the eyes
face the rising sun’s betrayal.
We have taught ourselves to see only with our eyes
and not with our hearts.

The shape we see does not become that boy
whose name showed itself to him.
Dumb boy, receiving things that can’t be given back.
His words, for he held them as if they were his alone,
he kept in a room with no door,
and they danced together and alone.
They shouted out the glory of their existence
until he couldn’t help it and the words that slept
behind his pillowed lips whispered and grew.

We hissed at him in the night’s dark sweat;
live in the terror which makes survival possible,
for safety, live in the things that hold you to earth.

Who would give their breath for symbols?
A noose for every loop, the smooth and hard stops,
the lines crossing and weaving on the page
that reminded him of his own striped back.

This morning the slave shacks wail
and hang their broken heads.
There his knowledge hangs,
heavy fruit rotting.

© 2015 Tanya Dickinson
Portland, Oregon

Tanya Dickinson (photo provided)

* * *

re: Your mother

I wish I could interview another you,
the one from 1972
with the Elvis sneer and the Joan Jett do,
who knows all you’ve forgotten and
remembers everything you knew.

I’d ask, How did Apollo ever earn your trust?
Did snakes lick your ears clean of his dirt and dust?
That kouros ideal, son of light and lust…
Was this liar’s lyre so inspiringly robust?

Because, honestly, I see no signs of Zeus,
no bull, no eagle and no Golden Goose.
I see a bitter old fool full of bile and abuse,
a kind of soulless soul only hate can produce.

And now cursed with a truth no one can believe
and the pain of loss no one can relieve,
I’d ask, Why cling to the tangled web we grieve
holding back that final ace up your sleeve?

I guess I’ll never fully know the reasons why.
And I‘ll never figure out how he drank you dry.
But somewhere in the depths of truth lives a lie
that will haunt me until the day I die.

© 2015 Frank Mundo                        
Alta Loma, California       

Frank Mundo (photo provided)

* * *

Study of the Back Door

I am sick of courage. I grit my teeth into diamonds. You a good father, making me spit sawdust like a working thing and all/ feminism of the plow and sweat. I erode my eyes against your absence of mercy. You raised your girl right. Granite enough to chisel into like renewable resource. I ain't never runnin out on you, Pops. The same way every Cadillac gon have gas till the end of time. Whatever I gotta tell you to get your eyes to flutter somewhere Georgia summer soft, sometime before you forged your God into an unlocked handcuff dangling at your wrist like the trust of a girlchild. I'm the youngest of your mistakes. Which is to say I have not had time to heal away my being. I am a scar ready to peel off the mystery of its face. I'm erasing my body until all that is left is a handful of chipped teeth. I invent a new word for gone every time we lock eyes. Teach me the ease of cowardice. I do not know if the grass is greener on the other side, but I know the ground here is tired of conjuring fruit from barren blood. This is the story I guess: a man the shade of lumbered and labored oak claims the night as his overcoat. Every star implodes in his synapses. Cuz back in the day, children used to respect they parent’s trauma. They was seen and not swallowed. And they knew better than to come home after certain darks.

© 2016 Imani Davis                           
Ridge, New York                  

* * *

Toxic Weeds

In recent times,
Things got broken
People got meaner… children got shot,
Hate grew wild… thoughts became feral
Like toxic weeds in an asphalt lot:

In recent times,
People became more fearful,
Less trustful… dread developed, anxiety
Increased in minds and grew
Like toxic weeds in an asphalt lot:

In recent times,
Shootings rose out of hatred,
Madness increased in the grimy cities and
Disgust and turmoil grew
Like toxic weeds in an asphalt lot:

In recent times,
A black child was shot in the back, 
Politicians clinging to their jobs became
Filled with useless rhetoric, and their excuses grew
Like toxic weeds in an asphalt lot:

In recent times,
A junkie in an alley in an ugly city
Died one Sunday afternoon, church goers
Passed by quickly, their indifference grew
            Like toxic weeds in an asphalt lot:

            In recent times,
A homeless woman fell in a back alley,
Bystanders looked the other way
As they passed her by, their apathy grew
            Like toxic weeds in an asphalt lot:

            In recent times,
The world lurched into chaos, prejudice, and
Hatred, then it veered into oblivion, as
Humanity’s neglect grew
            Like toxic weeds in an asphalt lot.

© 2016 James G. Piatt                                   
Santa Ynez, California      

James G. Piatt (photo provided)

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