[listen mother, he punched the air: I am not your son dying]

By D. A. Powell b. 1963

a stabat mater

listen mother, he punched the air:   I am not your son dying
the day fades and the starlings roost:   a body’s a husk a nest of goodbye

his wrist colorless and soft was not a stick of chewing gum
how tell?    well a plastic bracelet with his name for one.    & no mint
his eyes distinguishable from oysters how?    only when pried open

she at times felt the needle going in.    felt her own sides cave.    she rasped
she twitched with a palsy:   tectonic plates grumbled under her feet

soiled his sheets clogged the yellow BIOHAZARD bin:   later to be burned
soot clouds billowed out over the city:   a stole.    a pillbox hat    [smart city]
and wouldn’t the taxis stop now.    and wouldn’t a hush smother us all

the vascular walls graffitied and scarred.    a clotted rend in the muscle
wend through the avenues throttled t-cells.    processional staph & thrush   

the scourge the spike a stab a shending bile the grace the quenching
mother who brought me here, muddler:   open the window.    let birds in

“[listen mother, he punched the air: I am not your son dying]” © 2004 D.A. Powell. Reprinted from Cocktails with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Source: Cocktails (Graywolf Press, 2004)

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Poet D. A. Powell b. 1963


Subjects Family & Ancestors, Health & Illness, Relationships, Living

 D. A. Powell


Born in Albany, Georgia, D.A. Powell earned an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea, (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic. Lunch was a finalist for the National Poetry Series, and Cocktails was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. His next two books were . . .

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SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Health & Illness, Relationships, Living


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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