The Lions of Dusk
The politicians call it
the international district.
The people who live here
speak its true name with pride.
The war zone, where
the veteran’s administration
and hooded, heavy lidded kids
share the drug slingers corner.
The ice cream trucks play
Christmas jingles in the middle
of summer, June dark bodies
like cicadas, the children climb
over fences to chase a white truck
full of paletas. Everyone
holds their breath
until the truck turns the corner.
There is no safety here for children.
Innocence carries no permit.
The slow blue impalas swim
like neon tetras through
the heat haze, windows full of
fever, the anger of poverty
on full display. Survival makes
everyone here a veteran.
The homeless gather
a handful of quarters to rent
space on the mobile homes
of transit lines. The war
rages in silence
until the guns bark
like angry dogs at the neighbors.
Every day here is a fire drill.
The children have favorite
places to hide.
There is no protection.
Only the brutal shout of bodies
exploding from bushes.
The little girls sun dress
blossoms with blood. There will
be flowers on this corner every day
for the rest of the year.
The ice cream man
who drives this route
speeds, afraid of the brown
kids who live in this sector.
He knows survivors sometimes
are the first to turn violent
He is afraid of them for living.
The lean knives of their bodies
lean against his truck, carving
sunlight into ribbons,
feeding their shadows
to the lions of dusk.
This poem is from Zachary's new book Some of it is Muscle, which is releasing this week! He's an actor, poet, and youth advocate, Director of the ABQ Slam Poet Laureate Program, Festival Coordinator for the Verse~Converse Poetry Festival, Spoken Word Editor of Pedestal Magazine and host of many readings. He founded GDRIP, a poetry based program for youth in the drug court systems and he's a recipient of the Red Mountain Press National Poetry Prize.
Note: Bill Nevins is teaching English 324 Introduction to Screen Writing (no experience necessary) at UNM West campus in Rio Rancho this Spring term 2014, and he welcomes all students, It's Wednesdays starting Jan 22, 10:30 am to 1 pm. For information write him: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The first 2014 Poetry at The Range Cafe event is in Bernalillo,7 pm Wednesday January 8th featuring John Roche and an open mic poetry reading. It is Free! Come early and enjoy fine food and drinks at The Range on the main street of Bernalillo.
Send submissions for the Sunday Poem to email@example.com or to me firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell others about The Sunday Poem if you like this, and check out the weekly poem in the New Mexico Mercury. Hey, it's Emily Dickinson! And Happy New Year to all. Larry Goodell, guest editor.