No News Is Good News

Since I haven’t posted in awhile I thought I would share the first poem I wrote for my intermediate poetry class this semester. The assignment was to write a persona poem, a poem from the perspective of someone you know. We had to tell 4 lies and a secret/emotion that could be felt but not explicitly stated. Talk about a tall order!

In my opinion, this piece is nowhere near finished because the story is so complicated — by far one of the hardest and most personal things I have ever written about. However, my class seemed to enjoy it and my professor said it was “powerful, surprising, and possessed inherent human drama.” I don’t know if it’s completely at that point, but any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

My children say I don’t call enough.
They claim my phone number changes faster than the weather.
 555-2468, it’s been that way for years, but they say it’s been months.
Heck, I’m lucky if I know where I’m sleeping tonight.
You know I was busy dodging bullets in my car – the car I’ve been
living in since Irene kicked me from her bed and sometimes when
I drive pass 7th Street I can smell her beside me—Elizabeth Taylor
and old brown leather…mmm.  
But I only show my feelings on Friday nights and
shoot back flashbacks at the pool table.
My children think I’m missing. I’m just working. It was
my hustling of bands of dead presidents that bought them ten speeds
and gold rings and hot clothes and
trips to Mississippi that I thought they wanted to go on because
how was I supposed to ask otherwise? I told them
“You know you have three brothers and two sisters who live across the river.
I couldn’t bring them over because your mother never liked surprises.”
She was always good at food, clothing, shelter. It was my job to hide the broke holidays.
It’s not like I don’t remember—I still see you dribbling one-handed
when I watch little boys play outside.
It’s not like I don’t remember—I still feel your hugs when I see little
Black girls skipping down the sidewalk.
It’s not like I don’t remember—I still hear your laugh when I drive by the
racetrack to pick up my brother.
I see my eyes in my grandchildren
and when I see them I drown out the sound of the elephant in the room
with the laughter of my jokes and
for the moment things are as society says they should be. For the moment.
But I was born a city boy.
I count numbers instead of my sins and pray wins me redemption.
The money I rolled under my bed is now with the Feds
so I have to keep driving.