Fear Your Black Son Will Get Shot in the Front Yard         in the Car         Listening to Music         Reading a Book—

There’s a tree in the backyard won’t grow       

Half its hair charred     those leaves on the other

yellowish in their greening     infested        

never-ready         Sometimes I stand above it

in the sweat of a summer nightgown     from

the balcony where I’m afforded time to watch—

my bird’s eye     pain(staking)

clamping     a beak on a worm        

There are worms in that tree    sick-like         I’ve watched

without seeing         All the things one holds to the mouth

& swallows         I climb down     barefoot

the rocks still hot from the sun     though the sun

has gone down           I take an axe        


The Bowl of Life & the Butcher’s Knife

I threw away the butcher knife
my husband brought into our marriage          
It was square       could turn animals into other
I’m not a vegetarian & there’s ideas
being closer to what we consume
has more meaning        the way of ice cultures          
butchering the food & eating it raw          
the children crowded around that open-
casket of fur        kneeling on the sleet
with their red hands       the organs still warm          
I wondered about parasites & diseases          
the way I won’t even touch raw poultry
not since the miscarriage which had nothing
to do with chicken but swine flu & only
in the way of memory        the way it bleeds          
I was standing in line at the fairgrounds
for a flu vaccine        the pandemic fear—
two blue lines ghosted in a desert          
returned & I couldn’t hold the joy          
I wonder sometimes about the bowls we carry          
My adopted son says life is a bowl in the stomach
you drink from one bowl that clear broth
he holds to his mouth        sprigs of cilantro
in his teeth & the other bowl filling inside you          
He fell asleep on my lap that night I bled
that baby out again like he knew he was losing
& it would be years        I mean       I’d get pregnant
again in a month & the daughter would come
but it would be years before I could account
for that knife in the kitchen drawer
the violence we carry that bowl overfilling
sometimes or emptying        I’ve forgotten how
the metaphor goes        I wrapped it in a kitchen towel
& tossed it in the garbage worried for sanitation workers
but less        finally        for my family