The Lost Sheep: Poems

These poems are about the lost sheep, the endangered species of humanity.

Seein’ You

When I sit the suicide watch

I see a bunch more than tubes

Human eyes and bed clothes

Wrapped around their screams:

Late at night I sit forgotten

with the men and women

who've eaten their vows


and now it's poison

they need. Old man Kelly's

wife took him for near five hundred

grand so many times it gives everyone

nearby nightmares but his lite is a rusty

Coleman lantern on a Maine wharf

that spies hope from the sea

as a misbegotten whale.


Breath of an Ibuprofen eater

next to him scrapes my heart because

he sees colors and excavates wildly.

Seventeen-year-old heroine pre-survivor,

sleeps those moments before

he remembers drowning

on a ship without water, one

boot caved into his decaying mouth.

Another one, someone’s once grandmother

carries stories from the old country, lace and

recipes. There was never enough

love or tuna fish. A curvaceous

dark woman puts her vaseline on,

her voice raspy from the man.


These people keep me alert

to the quicksand opportunity

makes of itself if I forget

to see in them the you in me.

 

Somewhat Dazed

It all started when I tried to burn

down the church

the year the dress code

changed when the light

wavered exquisitely

just like in the fire--

when I lit too many votive

candles. But in my despair

I imagined that the nuns

cheered and wept as we stamped

out the raw power crawling up my legs.

I remember this

penitently

on the way home

from my position at the bank

where what anyone saves

counts more

than I do.

But I knew too the priest....

paid me much more than

I could ever

share.

 

Saying Goodbye to Elder and Lonnie

If I admit all the wrong I won’t be able to walk

Jehovah. Shame for them as much as me--

a turtle with its skin or shell--it all goes back

to the onion. In the cellulose quarters that uphold

the segments of my life, over and over, I am the example:

truth, bigger than the lie. Experience shows they kneel

before the original web. I become entangled though

in sensuous throes. My old god, truth, shouts

loudly through the plastic cage: Believe! Reason!

A new God no one likes, in mercy, whispers

a gentle rain. Soundness of mind

returns with a thump.

 

Repurchaser

He’s taught me all things, like a beloved father

teaches his daughter how she ought first to love.

He has done this for me, though now from my heart,

lungs, toes, and stomach I love the man--even though

I have never truly and completely seen him. I have though

heard him speak to me, speak and reason with me.


I have heard his heart thumping. I have felt

his hands clench and thrust out at me;his arms,

his muscles abridge and assail the sacred pocket

of our love. I go where he takes me till I remember

I must work tomorrow. It is in such a way that I trust him.


And yet, on another day, I will, when I am alone,

worry, and plunge deeply into the abyss

where I believe that he has taken physical things

like rings, money, jewelry, and stones from me.

At that moment, these things are more important

than my eyesight, my music, the ladder in the back

of my body that once twisted with grace.


What is it? What is this force that makes me cling

to the man I love, my father, through the chaos of debri

in my home, slaughtered timbers of a shelter

once prospered. What did I lose in him? What is he selling?


Just because of a script written decades ago

for someone with my name, I share this dance.

Oh, if only someone had said,

Say it isn't so.


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Comments

Paola Gianturco
Paola Gianturco
United States

With gratitude and a big salute for all that you do, Elizabeth! Love, Paola

IMOW Team
IMOW Team
United States

To honor the amazing work of an amazing Elizabeth Colton. From Claudia DeMonte

ADAMS
Kenya

thanks for the great work you are doing around the globe, may God bless you abundantly. SUKUNO DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE PROGRAMME welcomes you to Kenya particularly West Pokot County to share with us and help us see that a Pokot woman is respected through empoweremnt.


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