Today's poem is by Michael Mlekoday

Self-Portrait with Gunshot Vernacular

All summer was one wet weapon
after another: barb of sweetgum
in the ankle, stranger's knife blade,
the wasp stuck in your sneaker.
Rainfall kept the crack addicts
asleep in the church basement
amid remnants of the broken window.
O window, come again in glory
and the block will put a piece
of itself through you,
makeshift spear to the side,
stone to the back of the skull,
thunder of gunshot. Here,
we all know that sound.
If somebody flinch at firecrackers,
they may as well mispronounce
your name. This place is old
as a mother tongue.
Here, the world is always saying
Ya mama, Ya mama,
and you write poems
like they brass knuckles
or empty 4o bottles of O.E.
Believe that. Believe in wildlife,
that snarl and sex, glimmer
of I, I, until death.
Most people stop believing
in lions after visiting the zoo,
but you seen too many broken locks
and this neighborhood is bordered
by a jawbone made of light.
Rhyme or die. Shoot or die.
Smuggle yourself out
like a banned book or die.

This is the voice
calling to you in the wilderness,
its dark milk like blood in the throat.

Copyright © 2014 Michael Mlekoday All rights reserved
from The Dead Eat Everything
The Kent State University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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