Two Poems by D.L. Patrick


nostalgia and evolution

there used to be pink flamingoes
dignified brown ladies sporting gloves
in every length, wearing hats and
bone-colored pumps with handbags
to match

there used to be fried chicken dinners
at the Baptist church, mouthwatering hunks
of coconut cake with a slice of white bread
wrapped around a drumstick if you had
fifty cents in change

there used to be programs about the past
meetings and marches, heated nighttime
debates under nicotine clouds about
whose problem it was, and the means necessary
to solve said problem

there used to be streets where we dared
not ride, Edens where we’d better not stop
signs both awful and official directing us to
other doors, other schools, other seats
other aspirations

but we were raised to understand the regret
of the colored doorman just doing his job
when he turned us away, had backbones
stiffened to endure when sam finally huffed
and puffed and blew old devil jim’s house down
round his shoulders

there used to be chains that we could see, till
pride in the prize conjured them gone, now
we retreat from our ancestor’s shadows
as if they’re ghosts and we live in the straw houses,
chained to nightmares and weighty dreams
that have come true


Every Time

I’m making coffee at seven AM
overdosing on overnight news,
blinking between screens large
and small. Trying to read the crawl,
too: shots fired on Brooklyn street.
I rush to look for the brown Nikes
near my front door, the house key
with funky tags. And my heart
beats slower. Every Time. Voice
on TV drones as if the bloody
brown boy lying on the ground
is not someone’s son—is he on
the West Coast? I rush to text,
too early, and wait, hyperventilate
for details. Every Time. Middle
of the night calls, local drive-bys
on that crawl, and I tremble.
No, it’s another mother’s son. No,
the fear is not different, the
despair no less paralyzing.
Every Time. Searching for
solace in work, in writing
stories of the past, I face a
host, a plethora, a multitude of
mothers’ sons taken down,
taken out, taken apart for
muddy and murky reasons.
Buried deep is history’s harm,
our sons bearing the brunt
of its volcanic eruptions on
campuses, sidewalks, parks.
Click by click I turn off the
devices, but the truth remains
seared across my mother-
heart and I cry inside and out.
Every Time.


D. L. Patrick is a poet and fiction writer who has lived in Louisiana, New York, and New Jersey. She’s currently working on a new collection of short stories.