I once heard a cop from Flint say it’s
been a long time since a dead body bothered
her. It bothers me that I know what she means.
It’s not her fault. Nor is it mine. When it’s all
said and done, we only know what we possess,
and we only possess what we can hold onto.
The dead are usually just that. They are there
in the background. Like the Puerta Del Diablo
in El Salvador. I saw it envelop the entire landscape,
yet it did not move or speak to me with words that
I could understand.
I think we hold onto what we can grab. And we grab
what we can reach; for what we see and can describe, and
we only describe what we have a language for, and
we only have a language for what we can invent.
Beyond my creation, I have no language for someone who
overdoses on heroin in a storage unit in Flint. I have no language
for an Iraqi father sobbing with a rib bone in his hand after
searching all day for the remains of his son.
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 the USA Today, Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the Havana Times, the South China Morning Post, the Buffalo News, and more.