The jawbreaker in my throat stuck,
Stopped cooperating, so Mom
Took my ankles, hoisted and shook.
Market Fair parking lot; blue silence;
Devil candy; bystanders calmed
By my cries once she let me down.
Everyone knows which parents
To fear, which flip you to save you.
Marshall Scarry down the alley
Had explanations for every bruise.
They added up too well. We didn’t
Get close to that house at dusk.
Someone whispered guns. A chorus
Leaned out all the front doors,
Singing - dinner. Gradually Marshall
Wasn’t part of our games. We kicked
The can and smeared the queer,
Even boys who later turned out to be.
We felt alive in our hiding spots,
As the colors left the tar and grass,
And crossed the earth to make palettes
Of light, time-lapsed, in countries
We figured weren’t ours to care for.
Even if we didn’t need to watch out
For our own folks, we knew when
To shut up, seek greatness, tell no one,
How to fold small shoots in our palms,
Sure this land and these fields were
Made for our little conquering bodies,
For us and our voices to play.
Aaron Landsman’s prior publication credits include a poem in Mudfish 11, stories and essays in Hobart, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Clackamas Literary Review, as well as a script in Theater Magazine. His plays and monologues that have been performed in New York City (where he lives), and other cities across the US and in the UK and Europe. A 2017-18 Guggenheim Fellow in Theater, he teaches part time at Princeton, and is a student in a new MFA program at Bennington called Public Action, which makes him feel like he deserves a cape.