a rant (or, stories that wont be seen on the news at 11)

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this poem is for angela's smile,
infectious, with
dimpled cheeks
pushing eyes into twin squints
a lonely smile
twice orphaned by AIDS

this poem is for michael's hands
malnourished and misshapen
twisted by defect
into gnarled fists
gripping a legacy
of schizophrenia and addiction

for adrian
and his bruises
deep purples poking out from
threadbare sleeves
mottled greens and browns
remnants of blood vessels
like the spirit of the whipping boy

this poem is for sandra's notebook
wedged tightly between knees and chest
only semblance of sanity
under the staccato blinking
of a single bulb
in a locked bathroom stall
of a truckstop
where she was abandoned and forced
into womanhood

for tears
trekking familiar trails
down Samuel's face
seven tears
for seven fallen soldiers
who never saw war
beyond their own block

for daniel
and the shape of his body
remembered by the folds of his bed
his sanctuary left empty
when powdered vials became currency
in the modern-day slave trade

for chelsey
and her pink backpack
discarded on a darkened street
books and pencils
strewn alongside
a tuft of hair
bent glasses
broken nails trapping skin cells of a vulture
and a delicate white ribbon
afloat in murky sewer water

i could continue.

because this poem
is not for Darfur
not for Iraq
or the West Bank
or for starving children
in third world countries
this poem
is not for victims
of the sex trade or the tsunami
in south east Asia
or for babies in Romanian orphanages
(no, their cries
warrant poems of their own)

but this
this is a selfish poem
for one group of children
in one neighborhood
at the heart of one city
in one state
that our president likes to call home

this is a poem
for problems swept under the rug
for the persistence of memory
when the innocence of childhood
hangs limply like forgotten clocks
on distorted trees
for streets without peacekeepers
or a humanitarian effort
for the hipocracy
of No Child Left Behind
for hunger pains
and absent, unfit parents
for addiction
and betrayal
no electricity
no money
no mercy
no voice

this poem is for angela
for michael and adrian
and chelsey
and though
their faces will never be seen
on CNN or the nightly news
these are their names
and this
is their poem

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