Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Forrest Hamer


This air is flooded with her. I am a boy again, and my mother
and I lie on wet grass, laughing. She startles, turns to
marigolds at my side, saying beautiful, and I can see the red
there is in them.

When she would fall into her thoughts, we'd look for what
distracted her from us.

My mother's gone again as suddenly as ever and, seven months
after the funeral, I go dancing. I am becoming grateful.
Breathing, thinking, marigolds.

Down Bt The Riverside

Ain't goin study war no more
Ain't goin study war no more
Ain't goin study war no more

During the time Daddy was becoming Dad,
the armies and armies of green plastic soldiers
went on with their wars, my empire of the private
grown. Walter Cronkite tallied each day's casualties,
and my soldiers named themselves Americans or Viet Cong;
they zipped themselves up in long full bags or lay about
without their arms and legs. My soldiers bloodied themselves
with our garden's mud, and they did so under orders
from the eight-year-old sergeant whose father
had not been home in months.

And since I had not seen him,
even in the crowds laughing at Bob Hope jokes,
a new crowd each new place, I commanded
that the Army needed chaplains more than sergeants,
and the next Sunday I joined church, begged God
to help me lay down burdens and bring Dad home;
and that day I baptized each of my soldiers
in large garden puddles, blessed the crowd of them at
attention, and studied them not once more.

Charlene-n-Booker 4ever

And the old men, supervising grown grandsons, nephews,
any man a boy given this chance of making
a new sidewalk outside the apartment building where
some of them live, three old men and their wives,
the aging unmarrying children, and the child
who is a cousin, whose mother has sent her here
because she doesn't know what to do with her,
she's out of control, she wants to be a gangsta, and
the old folks talk to her as if she minds them
and already has that respect for their years her mother
finally grew into. The girl who does not look
like them eats and eats and sleeps late, sneaks away
when they are busy, and tonight will write herself
all over the sidewalk while it is still wet but
the old have gone inside, and the grown gone home,
and her mother who is somewhere overseas
of writing her that long long letter, but decides not to.

A dull sound, varying now and again

And then we began eating corn starch,
chalk chewed wet into sirup. We pilfered
Argo boxes stored away to stiffen
my white dress shirt, and my cousin
and I played or watched TV, no longer annoyed
by the din of never cooling afternoons.

On the way home from church one fifth Sunday,
shirt outside my pants, my tie clipped on
its wrinkling collar, I found a new small can of snuff,
packed a chunk inside my cheek, and tripped
from the musky sting making my head ache,
giving me shivers knowing my aunt hid cigarettes

in the drawer under her slips,
that drawer the middle one on the left.

-all poems previously published at Afro Poets

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