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Saturday, July 30, 2005


by Peggy Smith Duke

What, that would be helpful, can I tell a kid
whose brother was shot in the head and died? A kid
in the system for sexual abuse, born again,

struggling to envision the kind of life
the sweet, gentle, churchwomen describe,
spitting pixie dust into antiseptic air.

                       So, if I get wet, say I believe, I can drive a Beamer, too?

Yes, hallelujah, and go to college, and marry a nice girl
from the suburbs, and have children…just believe.

                       His eyes are gray with cracks
                       like southern porches no one sits on.

You see, life is like a fine Picasso, it depends
on how you look at it, what you know going in,
the understanding you bring to the situation…

                       …and if you

work hard enough everything will be alright.
This, too, shall pass, my friend. Just believe.

The drug of all he knows to be true
pushes him against the high graffiti wall
as raw winds gnaw at his new wings

twisting in the breezes made from hundreds
like him, spitting sawdust. When the wings fall off,
he becomes a carpenter ant following a trail
of fraternal pheromones.

Peggy Smith Duke lives in rural Middle Tennessee, USA, with her husband. She is a retired human resources professional and has published in newspapers, professional journals and magazines for 30 years. She has published several poems and received recognition in a number of competitions. She holds a BS in Journalism and an MA in Industrial Psychology, from Middle Tennessee State University; and an EdD from Vanderbilt University.