Friday, May 13, 2016

DB Cox- A Poem

the home
--- to my many brothers and sisters of Connie Maxwell Children’s Home

the first time
i saw my father hit my mother
we were all sitting
at the kitchen table
having dinner
they were arguing about something
maybe it was important
i don't know
but i do remember
as they shouted back & forth
they became like strangers to me

when it happened
it was so fast
i'm not sure
if i actually saw it
the sudden crack
of my father's hand
against my mother's face
& i found myself
standing up
hands flat on the tabletop

then i saw
my father's face change
as he looked
first at me
then at my mother
then back at me
he looked confused & scared
his eyes
seemed to be asking for something


at the time
i could not understand
but now i believe
my father was asking
to be rescued
he wanted someone
to save him
he wanted me to save him
but how can you reach
behind the walls
of a broken soul
& make it whole

my mother
sat at the table
coming from the corner
of her mouth
wiping at her eyes
with a wrinkled napkin
she had already started
to disappear
"we" had started to disappear

four days after
my sixth birthday
the man from "the home"
calls to say
he's on the way

dressed in my best
i balance
on a beat-up
cardboard suitcase & stare
out my dirty bedroom window

next door
white sheets
flap on the line
unconditional surrender
to the summer heat

there’s a record spinning
on the player
the song is over
the needle trapped
in the empty black gap
scratching static into space

i watch a small spider
crawl along the window sill
it will still be here

time passes
like a breeze
grazing the tops
of un-barbered heads
disconnected kids
no longer able
to believe in humans
not knowing how
to believe in gods
we worked
we played
we stayed busy to forget
we no longer questioned
or expected
we learned that “silence”
was a response
at night
we lay in army-surplus cots
& hummed softly to ourselves
composed of resignation

on sunday mornings
we’d march to church
the preacher
would tell us
how jesus loved
the little children
& we’d sing this tune:

“jesus loves
the little children
all the children
of the world
red & yellow
black & white
they are precious
in his sight …”

after church
my grandfather
would drive down
in his hudson
& take me for a ride
i’d sit next to him
listen to songs
on the radio
& admire that old fedora
he always wore
i wondered why
there were no songs
about my grandfather
i wondered
what kind of car
jesus drove

even now
i still dream of those days
i can see myself
running away
escaping that enclosed space
slipping into highway night
for that old house
hopeless box
of bad times
decaying landscape
where echoes linger
faint outlines
of old things
that will remain undone

my mother:
voices in her head
like a broken faucet
louder & louder
until she ran for the door
like the house was on fire
i cannot recall her face
no photo smiles
frozen in place
her voice gray
like something gone

my father:
sleeping alone
behind closed doors
lost in drunken dreams
an imagined world of order
where everything
was still in its place
outlaw time
is on the run
i cannot hold him
in my brain
features forever fading
i strain my ears
to hear a ghost
mumbling to himself

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