Monday, March 02, 2009

Dead Long Ago

All those people? Dead long ago. Most of `em anyway
They ate up all the lead, used so many drugs
Their bodies shot to shit, they’re all dead
Some’s left, see em once in a while
walking down the street,
Standing in the rain, trapped
Stuck on their methadone, loving it, not moving on

Heroin was good in the 60’s, plentiful and cheap,
My friends and acquaintances died from o.d.’s
Me? I never used it. Uhh ... O.K., I tried it once,
You know what they say about birds flock together
I flocked, beats me what for, but I did,
Truth is that flock was better n’ home
What? You want to know if I had a good home?

I thought that flock was better n’ home,
14 years old hanging with the addicts.
So sorry, at 14 it was alchies. Alcoholics.
Yeah, tried that too, didn’t like it none
Having babies for a black man, angry alcoholic
He became a junkie. I saw him not long ago

Asked him when I saw him,
“Why were you so mean?”
“Don’t know,” he said to me,
“Couldn’t hep myself, I guess.”
He tells me, “I’m HIV now, got a hernia so bad
my balls swoll up down to the floor.”
He was a god-damned strong man at 20.
I saw him press 250 pounds. Handsome too
6 feet tall, 180 pounds, muscular, well built
He had lots of girls. Gave me gonorrhea 30 years ago.
30 years ago I told him about our baby
“Shoe box size,” he said when
I held my hands up to describe
“Coffee color with lots of cream,”
I said about the baby’s skin.
Dead 30 years ago.

In the middle of the night they came, 2 a.m. or so,
Said “Your baby’s gone, you can see him now you want.”
Gone, born 2 days and a half ago,
“You can see him now you want,”
the doctor’s hand resting on my shoulder

I birthed him glimpsing his coffee
colored skin with lots of cream,
They took him away,
never `lowed again another see
“His lungs were half formed,” they said,
“You can see him now you want.”

Begging for 2 days and a half, not allowed.
“You can see him now you want.”
“What for?” I said, “I wanted him alive.”
“Too bad. So sorry. You can see him now you want.
At least let us do an autopsy.
Save some other woman pain like you.”

So Sorry. Trapped in a time warp.
Childhood? What Childhood? Childhood what?
So sorry. Never, ever heard the word.
Can’t imagine what it means.

* Note: This poem was written over 15 years ago and it still stands powerful. It has been published several times.


  1. It's interesting, the story or content are captivating because it's so far removed from what most people experience. The 'voice' of the poet is different though, I couldn't quite work out if it was you until I reached the end and found out it was written 15 years ago. Writing changes our voice somehow because we get to excorsise the demons.

  2. This is so raw, so terribly sad. But somehow we survive. That has to be some kind of miracle, I think.

  3. I remember reading this from "Spot of Bleach" joy and I think it still indentifies with issues that have festered rather than disappeared, the denials are plausible, this is still a worthy read

  4. Hey Joy, this welled my eyes somewhat. This was heart breaking.
    Very powerful.

    You repeat the word dead and its other forms, which made me think of Tennessee Williams' play: A Streetcar Named Desire.

  5. Great comments above; they took the words out my mouth. It's a rough read, but worth it.