After your grandfather father died
in the voice of my mother
We sat Shiva.
Your aunt convinced the community
she was grieving harder,
held her own Shiva at the same time.
No-one came to mine,
left me with the body though,
rotting, and filled with smoke.
So I did what any good daughter would do,
I buried it,
found a small plot of land and an inexpensive casket.
I lowered him into the earth.
It wasn’t over though.
They came back for him
with shovels in hand.
Said they bought a family plot
in the rich Jewish cemetery
with the bodies mapped out in a family tree.
Said they needed him to fill his place.
Told the groundkeeper they would have him
out in no time—
Not on my watch though.
I stood on top that grave for weeks
with my own weapons.
Had to hire my own Jewish lawyer to fight with theirs!
We had to file a restraining order for a dead man!
Ain’t that some shit.
Like a good daughter,
I put his body in the ground.
And like a good daughter
I made sure, it never came out.
1. Condition in which one loses the physical ability to move one’s hands; often caused by weakness, fear, confusion, and/or love.
2. Condition in which one loses the desire to move one’s hands from their current location, often caused by knowledge that alternate locations are cold, unwelcoming, non-community-oriented, and/or racist.
3. The decision making process one undertakes when determining whether or not to shake someone’s hand—someone witnessed, previously in the day, using said hand for a disgusting and/or unappealing purpose such as exiting a bathroom without washing, picking a nose or ear, sneezing directly into the palm, striking the face of a stranger, withholding food, withholding water, confiscating necessary belongings, confiscating children, manipulating the stock market, operating a drone combat vehicle, building an internment camp, murder, systemized oppression, genocide, and/or collecting monetary profit from aforementioned acts—forcing one to question the many handshakes one has experienced in one’s lifetime, causing a temporary paralysis as one stares at the enveloping digits and wonder what it really means to be clean
Cracking the code
In eighth grade the mayor came in to school,
lectured us about the “choice” program.
All students in Cranston Public Schools could choose
to either go to Cranston West or Cranston East,
for high school
regardless of where they were districted.
Then they filled us with pamphlets;
filled busses with us,
Eastside boys across the city, away
from Elmwood Ave and Broad street.
We watched out of windows
as the “ethnic food” changed from Cambodian to Italian,
talking shit the whole time, freestyling, Darnell:
My name is Donny D, all the girls be feeling me,
I punch you in the face, you be saying OOO EEE
Said things like fuck the West Side; said things like
my older brother goes to East,
my mom went to East,
Fuck the West.
Fuck their Nissan Muranos
and their fancy soccer cleats.
We don’t need that shit
Three hundred of us,
on a bus (a few busses).
We had our own concrete,
We had our own high tops,
We didn’t want their “vocational school”
their groomed grass
And the mayor knew this,
Nobody was bussed here from the west side.
If they ever wanted to come across the city
to buy a Black & Mild, or fuck an East Side girl
they would gel their hair to the left side,
grab a cashmere pullover from the closet
hop in the car dad bought them
for their sixteenth birthday—
smelling of peppermint
and axe body spray—
bring the engine to a slow quiet growl,