On TV it looked like a high-speed photo of a milk drop
the dying leader of the Pana Wave laboratory cult smack in the
Acres of white cloth streamered his followers, who
I was a kid other kids’
parents gossiped about.
They told their children
what I was: too negative.
I get it. Fair to fear
contagion of bad attitudes,
it was very sad the day we heard that dad would die but it was
also fun because all my friends came over and we went driving
in the blue Toyota that kelly’s sister terry drove
and i was the center of attention
Dreaming of one day being as fearless as a mango.
As friendly as a tomato. Merciless to chin & shirtfront.
Realizing I hate the word “sip.”
But that’s all I do.
You are light
when the sun is punched out
and darkness reigns.
You are the antidote
to what came before:
black blood, black heart,
hands tied, kneeling before
a ditch of human bones.
My niece calls me from my brother-in-law’s phone
While I’m getting ready to wash dishes. I pick up.
She says she needs to talk to her grandfather.
I tell her that her grandfather just went to sleep,
“Morning of goodness to you”
— “Morning of goodnesses”
Or add flowers: “morning of roses”
Always multiply the gift—
“welcome” to “two welcomes”
“a hundred welcomes and kinship and ease”
Weekends too my father roofed poor neighborhoods,
at prices only his back could carry
into profit. In the name of labor’s
virtue—or was it another bill collector’s callous
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn