three poems

 

Social Services

The way of poverty is plastic chairs, dirty walls, oppressive air, fluorescent lights, no windows. It is few men, absent fathers, women, women with children, children crying, children wide-eyed, restless, and bored. It is the long wait to see the clerk, who mispronounces your name and sits behind bullet proof glass, leisurely. The clerk will tell you what else you need to complete your application, and there is always something missing.

*

Breaking the surface of water

Holding my breath
as a child, I remember, sliding
under the warm bath water, and waiting
for the dull thump of my heart
to echo in my head, and that’s when
I knew it was time
and I would allow my body to break
the surface of water

I am back under it, and like a bad dream
I can’t break through. I watch myself
waiting for him to release me, and then
a child’s scream, another bearing witness,
and something primal is released
within me

My body thrashes, I draw up my knees
rock back and forth, anything
to release my pinned arms, the weight
on my chest, his hands around my neck
are no more, never again.

*

EXIT

you came into my mother’s house, you came
into our home, with your bloodshot blue eyes
large hands, blurry ink, and open wounds.

you came with the dark, black dreams
without stars, nightmares holding secrets
and silence, you walked in soft footsteps down
the hall, thinking no one could hear you,

but I learned to never sleep, to close my eyes
and listen, for the rush of air, the push-pull
of a door that had no key, no lock, no exit

and I hated you. I hated you for so long, and
then I felt nothing. It was as if you didn’t exist,
as if you never came into our lives, and
you didn’t touch me. You never touched me.

*

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