Saturday, January 21, 2012

St. Clair

’s my daddy’s name. I’m one of those kids
never knew his mother. I had many.
Why I get turned on to damn near any
sweet face. I can see where it leads,
I let my eyes go softly, slowly down,
I forget I had to have a mother.

My daddy died one night in a knife fight
in the smoky room he was winning in,
cards strewn on the floor specked with Daddy’s blood,
man with the knife gone before someone
called the ambulance. Daddy’s buddy, Claude,
could not stop the blood pouring from the wounds.

I was at the bar in the New Congress
Hotel writing poems for the lovelies
in hip-high hose with their standing offer
to buy me a drink for each one I wrote
if she for whom it was written approved.
They were old enough to be big sisters.

The bartender liked to compare the place
to a Honolulu hotel James Jones
made up in From Here to Eternity.
He knew my father, Claude gave him the news.
After hours all the girls convened. They led
me back to a room where there was a bed.

No sense telling you my grief was assuaged,
though not forgotten. I knew who it was
killed my father. The cops told me. I heard
he got his. Assassinated, they say
if you’re president. But that was years off
in the future. Bloody America,

Anna said. Paul said nothing. I was there
because I knew they loved the president.
They knew all about my father’s murder.
We were watching TV. Dallas, Texas.
Saturday sometime, Ruby shoots Oswald.
Who’d know now for sure who shot Kennedy?

(21 January 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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