i’m not here to talk about the rats or roaches

Monday, January 15, 2024

only that we were not a nasty people
but this is what we could afford:

a little place in the shade. a little roof over our heads to pray
and give thanks the water didn’t seep into our beds or kitchens
when it rained                   that the creek didn't rise to crown
our sleeping skulls good lord

that we didn't serve a god who pursed his lips at mercy
but who give us this day to study something silent in a cul de sac of pine
that he give us the joy to feel nestled as a jaybird bathing in somebody's palm

i can do all things by persimmon    by the gold glint
of fireflies shining off gilded teeth         by the brown
ashy limbs of cousins packed in a ford f-150

i can do all things by Puddin
Butcherknife    &    Poochie
by the blood of Jesus      &      the Bud Ice in the cooler

i can do all things by our mothers who knew
how to patchwork a pallet for us to rest
our heads just high enough from up off the ground
who worked this stingy crumb of good earth
into cabbage & tomatoes wide as a baby’s brow

but where are all those names¹
sweet as the caramel & red velvet of yesteryear?
where did they go the          JohnnieMaes
the Dorothys         the Gracies?

¹The last stanza is adapted from an excerpt from Neruda’s The Book of Questions 

Monday, January 15, 2024