T.S. Eliot may have called April the cruelest month, but it’s National Poetry Month and we’re celebrating by reading a new poem every day. Poems are provided by members of The Writers Place.
Mishmash by Annette Billings
I write this mishmash of well-intentioned poems,
which sometimes land askew of targets,
I write them for you who penned me free of hell.
They are poor homage, such pale payment
for the vibrant debt I owe.
But, such as they are, they are here–
offerings left with more gratitude than there are pages to hold.
Thank you Zora, Maya, Audre, Alice, e.e., Emily…
I write because you wrote first
and left an estate of audacious footprints
to guide my timorous feet.
You wielded machetes disguised as pens
and cleared a path truer than all the lies
they used to shackle me.
I surveyed maps you hid in poems, used keys you slid in prose,
followed the trail of your wordcrumbs to escape this life’s dark wilds.
See how I’ve mined my words from every place you wrote–
from dirt floors of slave quarters, gray walls of jail cells,
from margins of unpaid bills, pink slips,
from subpoenas, boxes of pregnancy tests,
from ceilings you stared at as you perished beneath some John?
I write in relative comfort because you wrote first under duress.
I write unbound from fear,
unhindered by demons you slew with paper cuts.
I write this mishmash of well-intentioned poems—for you.