April is National Poetry Month, and we’re celebrating by featuring examples of “civic” poetry from new and familiar voices. Throughout the month we’ll be discussing what it means to be civic through the art of words. Join us on Twitter at #civicpoetry.
BILL MOYERS: Suppose you read to those kids where you live this poem.
The “Note to the Addict Who Robbed Us on a Landscaping Job.”
Will they think this speaks to their experience? Read it.
Note to the addict who robbed us on a landscaping job
University Heights, Newark New Jersey
You could have turned to greed, tried to pull out
a lawnmower or tuck weed whackers under each arm.
The leaf blower was a cooler pot of porridge —
shoulder straps, a detachable chute.
We didn’t think twice as you zigzagged up the road,
mumbling to some muse. We turned our heads,
and you were wind, just like the machine on your back.
Any black comic will swear a dope fiend can’t be caught,
but you trailed an aura-wake — heat streaks woven
across South Orange Avenue, from University
Heights to the projects my mother once rose in.
Know that we could have pursued,
even brought back the power blower (and saved
ourselves) for a fix-worth of bills.
But, rightfully, you would have blown
if our rusty pickup truck came clanking your way.
We left it to the summer’s judgment — fearing
our small boss and sour there was likely
a man brown as all of us selling you
something so sick you would risk
stealing from we who carry axes,
steaks and blades for a living.