Sunday Jul 14

Reginald Dwayne Betts.jpeg Reginald Dwayne Betts has been awarded the Holden Fellowship from the MFA program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. A Cave Canem fellow, his poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, Crab Orchard Review and Poet Lore among others.He is a Breadloaf Writer’s Conference scholarship recipient. In August 2009 his memoir, A Question of Freedom, was published by Avery/Penguin and in May 2010 Alice James Books will publish his poetry manuscript Shahid Reads His Own Palm, which won the Beatrice Hawley Award.

Sometimes It’s Everything
Time & what else moves man to shape scrap
metal into god’s tongue? Call it a bid:
slang for a stretch, a mandatory minimum that leaves
            years swollen into the thirty seconds
it took to kill, & reasons are worthless once
            cuffs close wrists, after a night’s dirt turns
played-out war story for the body left owned by
            a cell’s straight lines & right angles, & no one
cares for nothing, not about parole chances
            wrapped in time’s chastity belt, or secrets
cock-eyed soap dice tell when they stop dead on
            snakes, or why the block is always still,
a casket of seconds, echoes, fists or nothing & chants.


A Father Talks To Himself

Rain slams upside my head, a fist tonight.
It brushes wind, which brushes yesterday’s
potash off my shirt. I dug dirt for hours
and planted St. Augustine grass on land
             still begging water’s touch. I say fuck this
starved ground, this rain, the crimes that lend my face
to Junior’s wild wild life. I know some things.
It’s April now, with the sun cutting shadows
into dead men on grass and gravel when
my arm transforms this shovel to shank that jabs
at earth, my fist holding the spade’s thin neck.
I know the size of the cell Junior calls home
and how it talks to him at night, each night.
            It was built with bricks the same as Lorton’s hell,
                        that hardened mud that draws out hurt from bones
and pulls what’s left into a fist. I called
            my sister asking where my son had gone.
            A man is crushed when he don’t know what steps
will lead him back to the years and life he left
behind for a fight with the streets and night’s hunger.
His mom don’t call my name for nothing since
she left its sound in my mad machete rage,
she left my voice in a cage and I don’t blame
that woman for love. I never was enough
saint to leave sin with the devil, leave my lies
unsaid. I lived flush with the anger ran
my son to jail. Never did teach him much
about the land, or how this rain is good
           for any grass. Or how men grow just like
                        skunk weed when troubled earth won’t let enough
air in. I’ll stand out here tonight, let rain
            make me something shaking with cold and pain.
                        Let the rain learn me something about hurt.