Adam King, “Tribal Letter”

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Tribal Letter

This is not my confession,
it is my burning refuge.
These sticks, these words
I have come to light up
speak of the villages, encampments, and towns.
In a drought, people go hungry
or they learn to eat fire.

I remember a children’s game
in which no one would hold my hand.
And a Mexican hat dance my class performed
but I alone had no partner.
I was given the crusts, crumbs,
the days-old bread of being alone.

Myself, so long I have beaten you,
a drum making no sound,
that I carried on death-marches
across barren wastes.
The dwellings I lived in
marked with X’s, like in the Bible story.
And each was destroyed, rubbled.

I don’t live anywhere now.
The walls are made of flame here
and the doors, of weak prayer.
I have only this task,
this piling of stone heaps.

I wish my home was the ocean.
Out of sticks, I’d make a boat,
be its captain.
I could know no one,
to others, be a ghost in the mist.
I could empty my ears
of all sounds but oars.

I watch our poor tribe
from my leaky boat,
and see all their days spoiled with wanting,
with lust for perfection.

I see them living in the never-neverland
of what they think is beauty.
I recall Moses
and the hundreds walking from Egypt.
Hungry, unbelieving.

Adam King lives south of Albuquerque, NM, along the Rio Grande. He holds an MA in counseling. His poems have been published in Blue Mesa Review, St. Elizabeth Street, Seattle Review, and The Tongue. He is currently working toward becoming licensed as a LADAC while editing twenty years’ worth of his “uncollected” poems. Hilda Doolittle’s little poem “Moonrise” began his love affair with poetry in high school, and he is forever grateful to her.

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