No one could breathe for him.
Hauled onto the curb as if he were dead already. Heavy as a bag of sand at a construction site. Still human, sucking the steel-tipped teeth of
men. Gathered around his neck.
They say that you had enemies.
Perhaps he was one of them.
They say you had a background.
Maybe that is why your mother’s blood wears these veins like armor.
All your life. They told you to stand erect.
Proud as an ancient Redwood.
To rise and work for your daily bread.
To believe in the meaning of it all.
To trust your next breath.
As sure as the shadows cast shade on the thorns of white roses,
or the way matriarchs never forget how to return home.
George Cassidy Payne is a poet from Rochester, NY. His work has been included in such publications as the Hazmat Review, Moria Poetry Journal, Chronogram Journal, Ampersand Literary Review, The Angle at St. John Fisher College, and 3:16 Journal. George’s blogs, essays and letters have appeared in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Havana Times, South China Morning Post, The Buffalo News, and more.
See all his poems on Tea House here.