Today's poem is by Bruce Alford, a poet in the English Department of the University of South Alabama. I think you will enjoy his work.
How Far Would You Get Without the Devil
by Bruce Alford
…but his face
Deep scars of thunder had intrenched, and care
Sat on his faced cheek –Paradise Lost
See how the dragon comes
screaming. My brother’s eyes are red,
the color of Satan—I mean they’re red,
and I stand in the bathroom mirror,
with nothing but a towel around my waist,
appearing strange to myself.
And he’s yelling, you know loud, because he’s drunk.
He wears a baseball cap as black as his face.
Nappy hair sticks out from under the edges. Bozo.
His loose face swirls.
Man, I would die for Mama. You hear me, man.
He puts four calloused fingers against his shirt,
right over his heart,
right over an illustration of Curious George.
Can’t I have something for myself?
No listen. Listen.
Man, she pulled a gun on me—her son!
Her own flesh and blood.
Said I’ll kill your motherf***ing ass.
Man, she did this to her flesh and blood.
What’s wrong with Mama, man?
Let me tell you what she did. I gave her 400 dollars.
I had just given her 400 dollars,
and I’m back there in that room,
and the phone rings and I hear her:
‘He got his lazy black ass back there.
He ain’t done nothing for me’—
When I heard that, Man,
I broke down and cried. I cried just like a baby.
It doesn’t matter that I’m a professor, teacher, lecturer, poet.
I am a stranger to myself,
hard to recognize. I am
my brother’s hand, reaching.
I hear voices
over long distances,
ghosts come forth from their tombs:
two brothers watch the Road Runner and Bugs Bunny,
a pillow fight: a goose quill sticking out between the stitching.
He used to be a ladies’ man.
Cool Congo, smooth black skin, my beautiful brother.
What’s wrong with my mama?
Give me Answers.
Man, why she got to talk to me like that?
I know I drink. I drink. I kick back a few beers.
But I’m 55 years old. You hear me?
And Mama’s got to be a little lenient.
I’ll do anything for Mama. I’m gone stick by Mama.
I’m gone stick by her side, but she takes.
She takes and I and I give so much of myself.
I neglected myself for Mama.
I can’t deal with this shit. People just don’t know.
Excuses. You can’t blame your past. Use it.
“In this magnificent piece, the poet transforms a painful experience into a strange beauty.”
You’re so cold.
Your iron body needs a brother’s heart to make it live.
Still, you have to die a little.
Go. Embrace him there.
This could kill me.
It’s the history that’s terrible.
Satan, Satan a fallen angel,
oh how fallen, how changed.