Wednesday, November 11, 2020



Sharp as a tack and working
mind and body to the bone
for pennies on the dollar so
his family can eat three squares
for at least another day but Jesus's
fingers ,usually so steady plying
wood despite carrying callouses,
scabs, and splinters, now not able
to keep the level straight as he keeps
hearing footsteps and whispers
and when the dawn unfurls the last
edge of the night Jesus is gone.

Maria selling fresh beefsteak
tomatoes at the market by day
and making the open mic by night
where the words etched from
her quill thread together like
the stems and petals of lilies
into a quilt of language plush
with passion and a dozen poetry
lovers in the house clap hands
but walking on clouds to her car
she's pelted by rotten fruits thrown
by rednecks until Maria is gone.

What looks like some sadistic
statistic algorithm reads like
prose to Karim whose fingers
dance upon the keyboard like
a virtuoso pianist doing
a Beethoven boogie woogie
with lines and lines of computer
coding to keep the bad guys at bay
till the bits and bytes are misread
with hysteria over a too smart
dark skinned man who knows
now only that Karim is gone.

Kiana's Kitchen was once just
a Susie bake oven churning out
chocolate chip hockey pucks
but shadowing her mother's
every move led to a love
of cooking and a culinary
career with a restaurant
in a quiet little town where
people wave and smile until
out of sight when a match
lights kerosene and the eatery
smolders until Kiana is gone .

If not for barriers braved
by the countless before us,
no one would exist among us.
A shame that the land
where it costs nothing
to dream but blood and sweat
as spilled by the spirits
buried in graveyards across
the promised land fosters
not community but fear
and hatred of those
so very much like us.

--Tony Pena 


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