Like dice. Like castaways.
Like mice. Like runaways.
A stripped wall. A blinded window.
We were waiting to open presents.
Our father was fiddling with his Bell and Howell.
Our mother clucked, “Smile,”
and clicked the shutter. Snapped
between sprayed jungles and a murdered King,
cities on fire and taped conspiracies,
the Tallahatchie and the St. John’s rivers,
the West Bank and a gun to the head,
the boredom of rooms and the dust of the moon.
Adrift on the open sea do you sink or swim?
In a dust storm what’s best, future or past?
Buried to your neck in dirt, where will you turn?
Smile. The girls refuse; the boy offers his face.
Black and white, stripped and scraped--
give us this day our gravel road,
our four lane highway, our leveled field.
First published in Poetry East, #61, Spring 2008 (Snapshot Issue - published with photo)