Day 29 of 30 (ONE MORE TO GO!)

AL, FROM BELLE GLADE, FLORIDA

a sliver of a young man
with skinny sucker sticks
for arms and fists the candy
skin thick
muddy like oil from a car
cadillac big and american
made

a fighter
all punch and pimple
and cane ash because
sweet gets torched in
belle glade
down in the muck where
the mighty are made

told me
he was the number one
boxer in the state
top ten in the country
used to being
punched in the face
don’t happen much though
he said because he knows
how to move
knows how to move
away from knuckles
knows how to move
away from knockouts
knows how to dance
and dodge and duck
and wait
to devastate

but all i could see
was a child in a
gloveless world
with broken bits that
have mended abnormally
a boy with a heart on fire
the saccharine long burnt off
the ash floating like cold
snow behind his eyes
a kid that doesn’t really know
how to move
at all but knows
how to make a living
throwing haymakers

Day 28 of 30

ANCESTORS

if grandpa was here he’d pinch the soil
drop it’s crumbles on his tongue
taste yesterday and tomorrow and tell me
something has gone
and something is coming
and everything is just the same

if grandma was here she’d pinch my cheeks
take my smile in her eye
see yesterday and tomorrow and tell me
something has gone
and something is coming
and everything is just the same

be worried black child
grandpa would say

don’t worry sweet thing
grandma would say

and i am here
just here standing with
yesterday in heart and tomorrow in mind
searching for a peculiar wind
one that can move earth
and blow a kiss

Day 26 of 30

CHOMP (or FOOD POISONING or TOP CHEF)

perhaps america does
not eat its young
but instead gnaws
on youth until
they are convinced
they are food

a curious culinary
connundrum for assumed
food to lose flavor
to grow into
fools who feel
like they are seasoned
chefs

Day 25 of 30

ON COTTON (thinking of South Carolina)

if you’ve ever stuck your
fingers in a cotton boll
you’d know
cotton don’t never
want to be picked
you’d know cotton
bites and nips at nailbeds
makes cuticles bitter
black cherries

and so i wonder
if my great-great-anyone
wept on line with sack in tow
maybe whispering a chant
of comraderie
of connection to the downy
for knowing what
it meant to be
picked and plucked
and ripped from home

twisted and tightened
and spun into yarn

Day 24 of 30

AN HONEST TALK WITH DAUGHTER (if i have a daughter)

daughter
your mother will teach you
how to swing and wield
she will show you
how to cut
how to open skin
of things
how to shine and slit
and make halves of
this whole world

and i
will tell you
what blood tastes like
my mouth made rose
from kissing your
mother’s crimson creases
i will whisper to
your wounds as well
i will clench stitch-up
needle and thread
between teeth
house your scream
under my tongue
keep you from tasting
your own iron

but still
i cannot swing and wield
a sword i have never had
the strength to lift
i cannot pretend to
know how to cut
or open skin clean
i cannot begin to
know the weight
of woman and weapon

i only know
how to be sheath

daughter
i only know
how to be sure
you are safe
and sharp