Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No Firefly Summer

photo: ralph murre,  muralist unknown


No Firefly Summer
by Sharmagne Leland-St. John

No firefly summers for my child
No mountain air clean and mild
Barrio born and bred
Unlike her milk fed
Country cousins
She's paid dearly
For our earthly
Sins
No skinny dips
In crystal clear,
Glacier chilled,
Spring filled
Swirling creeks
No rosy cheeks
No weekends by the sea
Ollie, Ollie, Oxen free
Never passed my child's lips
No daisy-chains or sweetgrass whips
Blind man's bluff, hide and seek
Were games she never played
For this round eyed, streetwise waif
I nightly knelt and prayed
Oh, Jungle Gods you have my soul to take
Just keep her safe
In every way
For one more god-damned blessed day
No summers in a cabin on Moon Lake
For my latchkey child
No cool ocean breezes sweet and wild
Life in South Central was cruel and tough
And violence never seemed enough
This quiet witness, silent mourner
Faced a thousand deaths each day on every corner
One can't ignore the crackheads, pimps, and whores
That lined the streets in droves and scores
No matter how she tried
She could not overcome my fears
She watched while winos died
Drowning out their tears
In their own vomit and filth in the churling gutters
She has seen the squealer as he stutters
Out his litany
And the skinhead dealers dealing tragedy
The gangs that travel wolf like in their packs
The hollow eyed junkies
With the monkeys
On their bleeding backs
With morbid curiosity
She views this horrid scenery
Uzi's, AK 47s
Bloody glinting blades
No idyllic glens
Or faery glades
This my child your legacy
Este mi ni├▒a su herencia
Mea Culpa
Me hija
Mea Culpa
Maxima
Steeped in self doubt
My prayer is all I own to give
That you might live
Long enough to get out
Of the Barrio
Life in the hood
es muy peligroso!
Y puede ser peligroso a su salud
Get out baby,
Get out!

~ first published in Unsung Songs (Quill and Parchment Press)