Michael Jones



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 vile

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,

whose great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother

raised chickens in Ghana, shoots a boy

whose mother, in her tiny yard a mile from here,

is 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.”



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