The girl asked nothing from me,
just left, hitching I suppose,
my car still in the garage,
my wallet untouched.
She looks just like her mother,
relatives say when they learn.
When I search her room, I find her
childhood like a gray cat asleep
on the window sill, legs jutting,
fear switched off like a tightrope walker.
At the police station I wait
to report her loss and stare
at green plaster walls,
pictures of other children
lost ahead of her.
An officer asks for a photo.
On the way home, now a house,
I stop at the cemetery to weed
around the gray granite stone
where her mother rests,
a mother who sang songs like Doris Day,
shared the sacred secret of a girl’s period,
eked out a teen’s laughter
without a word like Chaplin.
In a home again, I am needless
of a car or a wallet,
the window sill dusty, a snapshot
of an ageless daughter
stuck a seventeen, an odd number,
the title of a magazine in a waiting room,
the number of syllables in a haiku.
yet a long way off a kid I might make merry I am perishing
A Dyslexic’s Sonnet
Teh 6irl in teh seat in front
of me past me a ntoe.
I Whant to reed I ca’nt
ask her to read it 2 me.
Sh3 is deautiful I am nto.
I dont want her tothink
I am bumb a bummy
a quppet whoose strings
dont work. I ca’nt
ju66le her words make nosense.
I Wisk I saw a brid brid
so I could fly a may.
I past it to teh boy dehind me.
Brown G.I. Joes and Black Barbies in the Clearance Aisle
I prefer José.
But I fall in line with my hombres.
¡Hombre, no te enfades!
I say not to be upset,
but you know how it is
when you expect to be sold
and you’re sold down the river
for centavos on the peso.
Mi amigo . . . este es un hombre
con sueños de sangre y gloria.
As a soldier, I agree: why should he
not dream of his enemy’s blood,
the taste of glory on his lips?
When we shipped out to a state
with a population of 93.7% white,
I grew homesick for my maker, Vietnam.
All the gals hanging with me
have the same name, Phillis,
the name of a beautiful young girl
from Greek mythology
who hanged herself for love.
We come with all the accessories.
My private name is Quamana.
No one gets to buy all of me.
After Christmas, the store
sent dolls to a ward of girls
who had no hair, and nurses with hair
picked out all the fair-skinned figures.
I don’t blame the little ones.
If my Bible serves me right,
in heaven their angels always see the face
of their Father. And he be black.
Don Narkevic: Buckhannon, WV. MFA National University. Current work appears/will appear in Agape, New Verse News, Bindweed, and Book of Matches. In Spring 2022, Main Street Rag published a novella of poetry entitled, After the Lynching.