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Poetry: D. Sykes

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Vera Says

Something’s wrong with the bomb, she says. 
Launch codes.  Left them in my pockets when I did the laundry. 
So now we’re in the war room carving treaties 
out of various mattresses. 
I think I liked the fear more, I think I loved that rocket threat— 
drifting off next to her I sometimes remembered 
long walks in the field down by the missile silos, 
dreamed of that fatal day when one of us would finally turn the key. 
Now all of our friends are diplomats, 
my boys are out in the shit shooting candy hearts out of the sky, 
and I’m drinking like Winston Churchill after Normandy. 
That sweet desperation vanished like a wisp of smoke 
licked from the lips of a broken city by a stiff westward wind. 
I’m crawling under my desk now, hands on my head, 
ignoring the foreign policy for a while. 
Lord knows, from here on out, its all quiet on the home front.


The Poet Laureate of Cell Block E

When he adorned his orange jacket with phrases of absolution 
The prison psychologist suggested he write. 
He crafted epics of pain, whole pages on the grotesque subjugation of rape, 
The sullen ecology of the jailyard; 
White power, black power, no power at all: jury-rig tattoos and barbells. 
He had no party to his art, 
He observed from the concrete steps and lonely spots in the mess hall 
And was beaten for his insolence, for his keen aloof eye. 
When he started getting published he got lippy with us. 
So we put him in solitary, took away his pens, 
Replaced them with a suicide watch. 
When he started tracing on the walls with crooked fingers 
When they scraped to the bone and his angry words smeared the bloody stone walls, 
We let him.  God knows we didn’t want to hear him start playing guitar anyway.

All Rights Reserved to D. Sykes

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