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A Book of Days

Updated on February 2, 2012

a poem on the border

I just realized that I identify myself as a poet, but have not revealed any of my work. I have some excuse for this. First, I publish my poetry, when it is published, under a different name, and do not think of the me the poet and me the hub writer in the same way. The types of material I engage and the manner in which I do so are different in each case. Second, with the current power of technology and strange weaknesses of modern copyright law, unless you are a publishing corporation, releasing what I have worked very hard to produce and perfect seems risky. I have decided to go ahead and publish this piece on HubPages anyway, and see what happens with it. All questions and criticism are welcome. As a courtesy, please ask if you want to retain a copy of the work in any other medium other than this HubPage itself. Thanks.

A Book of Days


The two-stepping nurse and her patient

dance against gravity

into the groaning weight of doors,

Himalayan curbs, wicked corners

of drawn-out hallways.

Confucius didn't know a damn thing,

making youth an old man's ass;

as if there was not trouble sufficient to the day

I must hear of the '29 flood

and babies slipping free of the womb

on their own in undoctored cane.


Next door to Gehenna

skinned women and headless men

phantom stop signs of doomsday

I idle the days and hours worrying

with grocery lists, dust, and dishes,

the possibility of fruit,

the mystery of my mother-in-law's coffee.

Some journalist writes

I should be bittered by the blood

on the other side of the border,

but today I cut my thumb

in hot water, washing

glasses sticky with blueberry juice

and did not cry out.


I am not passing,

but I don't pay a price

for my grandmother's accent

or estranging blood.

They think she is Polish, or German

with her army-wife English,

pale skin, and nose-skinning eye.

How much they know, how mistaken,

is guided by their will to blacken

the earth with pale skin and dark,

limiting the human frame

to melanin strongholds,

shades of error, lesser and darker.

My grandmother treasures her pallor,

her bouts of skin cancer,

the purity and power of her blood,

her family's history of purchase,

of being on the wrong side of revolutions,

riding the wind from island to empire

for the right kind of wife to bear

the right kind of son, practice

the right kind of worship

under the right kind of veil.

I am not passing

but my people have owned

on the sea and on the river banks,

East Texas to San Juan,

a complicated poverty of spirit,

a mute multitude of souls.


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    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Very powerful and moving poem; dark, moody, intense....I absolutely love it. Voted up, beautiful, awesome and interesting. I will be SHARING this. Theresa

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Good Morning Mr. Michaels. loving your poetry. hope you poetry more for me to read. voted way up


    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 5 years ago from Canada

      Hello Ed Michaels, loving your imagery, the personal story and the catchy sing-song rhythm of the piece. Regards, snakeslane.