“They sleep, We Grind”

for M’reld Green

“write me a vision?”

she said
as I swallowed cold, “day old”, coffee
still half hung over
I had been up typing
writing & arguing with myself
it awoke her so she engaged me…

“you are a poet, tell me where it comes from?”

this is the dust rolling across the land the white man pillaged
this is the last buffalo that roamed free
these are the tears of a mother
cutting her son down from a noose
this is morning count & prison yards
this is electric bills and Quest cards
this is graffiti artist “getting up” on legal walls
then stealing a few paint cans and tagging city hall
this is the last sip of brandy you take before you black out
this is cutting off your hair, picking up a book, and trying to do “write”
this is rows of families at the food pantries in their work clothes

this is carnations that bloom out of season
this is going to pick up your last check
this is eviction notices
the shame of your whole life fitting in a book bag
this is turning yourself in because no one will hide you
this is 6 months to live and no one to share it with
this is dedicating your love to a fiction
this is believing a lie
this is falling for the “okie doke”
this is the shame, tears and anguish of a lost dream
this is the untimely death of your grandmother
this is losing all hope
drinking
screaming
while laughing at the same time
this is hurried love notes
that you are too scared to deliver
this is the fear of rejection
this is noticing that no one is noticing and being furious about it
this is hours and hours of self inspection
this is sleepless nights
this is phone calls you have been waiting weeks for
this is burying your child
this is burying your parent
this is reflections of past lives
this is a sea of temptations and not knowing how to swim
this is losing everything
including your mind
being at the job staring at the cash register
contemplating taking the drops
and stuffing them in a bag
this is being robbed by your own family
trusting in people who only wish you harm
rice paper friendships
the dishonor in lying to God
this is trying to make amends for past sins
this is knowing that you don’t know anything
and admitting it publicly
this is the panties and bra of the “side chick”
at the motel staring at you from the floor
when your cell phone rings at 4am
this is coming to grips with the reality of your mortality
this is forlorn grey,
florescent yellow smiles
rhubarb red lust that consumes you
this is what it feels like to miss someone so much
you break into tears at the mere mention of their name
this is Moses announcing to Pharaoh
what God said he must do
with authority
these are the words you will remember
when my corpse is rotten
my children’s children’s children asking about their linage
this is growing up afraid, insecure and lonesome
this is trying to forgive
this is giving in to something bigger than you
this is arguing with the stars

this isn’t stages
awards
accolades or achievement
this isn’t rockstars
popularity or competition
this isn’t even a slam
that was an illusion
just a trick to keep you listening

this is what we do to keep from giving up
this is giving in, sometimes
the Calvary
the ship that finally finds
the Skipper and Gilligan
and takes them off that fucking island
this is trying, searching and praying
to find your way home…

She nodded…
turned and smiled
“Keep writing”
she said,
“but keep it down, a little, it’s late. Some of us are trying to sleep”

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