Today's poem is by Gibson Fay-LeBlanc

Oakland Work Crew

Dan said, My life is a nine with the hammer cocked,
chuckled, told of standing on a browned lawn
naked, three hundred pounds of pure Mick-Spic:
shooting at a Chevelle, tire marks on concrete.
Told how, inside, you heat a sharpened Bic
and a guy carves DannyBoy or NorteaŮo on your neck.

Prince pictured of faint patterns on ceiling tiles
in his dreams and a pot with a ten in it when he finds
where color begins. He brought a picture: heís thirteen,
Liberia, wide smile, fatigues, kalishnikov
hugging his shoulder. Told of barefoot soccer,
running on bricks, the grace of a clean pass.

Iím worth more than someone I meet, Rich said,
then described his daughter, his girl, and ladies
here, there. He explained what it means to be
a baldhead, why, if he sees a SudeaŮo on Third,
he canít be held responsible for whatíll happen.
Told us which old school Cutlassí is hella tight.

Larry kept saying, High as an Oaktown sky,
thatís all he said, aside from seeing vines
or brush or poison oak we cut and pulled
were a J with a hit so big heíd vanish. Never
told us what we knew: clapboard house,
cracked talk, brothers to keep in shoes.

And I went home and wrote a lover, told
how far hills were no matter where I drove,
how I didnít know what it was to be a tatted
baldhead, raise kids, play barefoot in the street,
one eye on the hammer, one ear to the barrel,
hearing a seashell inside the chamber.

Copyright © 2012 Gibson Fay-LeBlanc All rights reserved
from Death of a Ventriloquist
University of North Texas Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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