I’m sure you can see the way
small insults harden my smile
till it flashes bone;
how sharpness of tone
incites my eyes to display
the light of pure bile.
Sometimes kind words rile
me—didn’t ask for the loan,
don’t want to repay—
because they don’t stay
kind if I stay on the phone
to discuss my file
in depth. Nothing
stays hidden. Stray bullet, stray
bomb, and some kid’s blown
away. What I own
for that: a lot with a mile-
wide entry. My grievance bay.
(Down Home Diner, West Oakland)
The notary orders eggs,
and halfway around the world,
in Gujarat where she was raised,
another notary orders eggs.
But a quarter-mile from here a boy,
raised chickens in Ghana, shoots a boy
whose mother, in her tiny yard a mile from here,
feeding the youngest of her chickens.
Michael Jones teaches at Oakland High School in Oakland, CA.
His work has appeared in Atlanta Review,
Beloit Poetry Journal, and DMQ Review,
and has been reprinted in Southern Poetry
Review’s anthology, “Poets of the West.”