Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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Jail by Church and School

You too might find yourself
dragged from the dock by men
with plastic badges, someone’s blood drying
on your legs, a smile cut into your knee.
You too might be chained to a beam
in the main room with embezzlers
and frauds, still-stupored taro thieves,
the one Mormon practicing
in the corner with a broken sling-shot,
the infected and fevered addicts
who beat their women
but not to death. It’s a full lot tonight
and the guard nods from sleep
then lets the nearly sober go, the cripples
and quiet crazies, the almost dead
choking to breathe, the sad boys
who dream their fathers still pray
for them in the village, on the road,
when they stalk the shoreline
for sleeping fish. The radio plays
a creed in the melody of Amazing Grace.
In the two real cells with real bars
are rapists who fucked the wrong girls,
the high title daughters and pure-bloods,
the best-dressed girls from Guam.
In the cells are men who went too far
with their knives with white girls
they thought loved the foreign pain.
You too might shake their hands
and learn the truth of the turtle
and the low tide, matters of the heart
gone dark. There’s a story they tell
where they take you to the top
of a hill and make you kneel
and recite the sacred words
of the mountainside. You climb
a tree with a rope and jump
like you want nothing else
but to die in that holiness.
You too should imagine the echoed
grind, the sleepless lean, the long drop,
the flies and tree-rats filling
your mouth, eating your bones
to nothing.    

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