[ Johnny Pep, P.O.W. ]

When they flang me down that hole I clawed for home—

When they sealed the seam with clay : sucked roots and ore—

When my gut would grind would groan of lack I ’voked some meat—

When I was blindered underground I seen our creek—

When stench would stain the mind the mind would branch—

When I got stripped & roped to stand for sleep I reined my hoss—

When cane-straps flogged us cross the field we’d call a tune—

( When rows of welts ( still ) grave the mind the mind will climb. )
More Poems by Atsuro Riley