[for Larry Milligan]
You asked me once, could I read
my poetry to the ragged man
living in the cracks between our eyes
and I never answered you; I couldn’t
say the ears are torn, open
to what I have and cannot give.
The men are outside the mission
waiting to earn stale bread
by the sweat of their ears;
I have nothing to say to them
sleeping in the all-night horror show;
I am sorry their hands were stolen
but the police station is locked
and only thieves are welcome.
I have no storage space for pain
where the ragged man could sleep
or gnaw my words in charity.
So call me hypocrite; you will
have to be true to your logic
which condemns all but victims,
saints and heroes.
I have no skill to comfort ghosts;
my words are for those with hands
firmly in their ears;
they refuse to become bread.
Nothing I say will open
the freezers where pride is kept
lest it melt in the eyes of the Sun.
It is too late for words
but there is nothing else
to heal the killers