Bio Note: This has been the impossible year: death, real estate sales, illness—all have come to find us. Poetry and art are saviors, as is the wide blue sky, the company of good friends and a well-made martini. I write poetry and fiction, and for info on that you can find me at www.laurelpeterson.com.
The Price for the Vote
They come to feed me, twice daily, my mouth held open with steel clamps, the four-foot tube a snake that rapes me. I will vomit what they force down my throat. What is the price for my vote? They blast me with water-cannon, attack me with dogs. The policeman beat me, his nightstick raging at my demands. He pinches and gropes my breasts. What is the price for my vote? They test me on the Constitution because I am black, Southern. For twelve hours I wait to register; in my district, no polling place but they refuse me a ride. What is the price for my vote? At the border, they steal my children. Still, I wash your wife’s sheets; my son mows your grass; my husband cooks your burritos, your egg rolls, but we are turned from the polls. What is the price for my vote? They refuse me at my own door: destitute, unemployed, unmarried. I shout for one hundred years chained in front of your White House. This is the price for my vote. This is the price for my vote.
On Her Knees
Charlene’s pretty sure she doesn’t believe in God, but the moment she skids on black ice, or her house goes up for sale, or her best friend gets leukemia, she’s begging the wide black universe for mercy. Animal brain presses her down. She feels the light dimming, contracting to a pinpoint like a pupil, even as she feeds the flame with breath. She’s sure we can’t help ourselves: even freefalling into the abyss, our fingers clutch at cliff edges of air.
Cape Cod: My Father's Last Flight
Tomorrow, they’ll take him up, hospice and a church buddy along for the ride, to see below him that curl of sand and salt where his life is ending. Slightly morphined, cocooned in blankets, they will lift him into the cockpit, as now he is almost too weak to stand, to float in sky as clear and bright as that final light he’s waiting for.
©2020 Laurel Peterson
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell her or him. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL