Pressed between Webster's gotten and grand,
mama keeps your letter, one page
to remind me when I'm at a loss for words.
Those words always the same;
I'm sorry mama, I understand now, soon real soon
but your release got pushed back twice since
then, already seven years ago.
Your dashed out script, the curves
of d's and b's never touching the base; detached-
a subconscious slip, my missed warning sign like
the forged checks, threats to mama at her work,
or finding Jesus four more times before
the cops finally took you away.
It was hard on her the first few years,
hard being patted down for visits, smiling
while ignoring each new tat, but it was who I had
to settle with the bank, play deaf to whispering neighbors
at the Safeway, at the Chevron, at the …
Who goin' hire him when he get out?
I cup her weathered hands in mine, wounded birds trembling
God goin' take care, God goin' take care
Finding the right words I need
I move you in between irresponsible
and irretrievable. Close this book
faithless, without memory