Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
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In the hall blocked by bikes and boxes,
under the buzz of florescent bulbs, the carpet dulls
with stains that mute the hidden past,
who has walked here and where from—

my brother lives here, behind that door
where it doesn’t look much different, the stacked
used plates, bowls, cups, crusted with time’s translation
of what remains, but my brother isn’t here.

He’s awake in a block of cells that face each other,
facing no one, having read his pamphlet on what to do
should he be raped or beaten, thirty men
in a single room and some for months,

the lights cutting his white skin purple as if light alone
could remove the skin, my brother
sitting up as the phone is freed,
how he must kneel to use it, the cord no longer

than a foot, stationed below the TV that’s always on
so that every man will watch him whisper,
desperate, into that warm black mouthpiece.
What he will do if no one picks up.  end

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