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  Jackie Kays

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 Pen in Hand

The old poet sat, struggling with a
fog of mind contemplating inking  his
paper with  words of wisdom from his
exploits from another time, like a
belated rhyme.

Young years of shanties and shacks
on the wrong side of the tracks.  
Dust, dirt and poverty that hurt.
The poor little boy from walnut
Street was an urchin that no one
wanted to love or keep.

The year was forty eight, colorful
hollyhocks and large yellow spiders
on the old garden gate.

Children were seen and not heard,
he couldn't  wait for a chicken leg
on Sunday from the barnyard bird.

A piece of cherry pie, if the cellar water
was not too high and dark clouds of war
were beginning to form in the buttermilk sky.

A welfare sack of oranges on his back,
knee deep snow, he silently tramped
down the track.

School sometimes, but work most,
buckets of coal, drugstore deliveries
galore and at  the White Swan dirty
dishes until midnight or more.

He hoarded his nickels and dimes,
for a mackinaw coat he wore all
the time.

But, like sands in the hour
glass, time came and went.
The poor little boy from
Walnut Street was now
near six feet and hellfire

Now a Youngman, his future
Was no longer so dark and bleak

The years quickly passed,
Military, family, war and
much more.

At seventy eight, the shanty,
hollyhocks, large yellow
spiders on the old garden
gate are regrets no more.

Pray tell,
what was it all for?

Jackie R. Kays

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