Ladder

[ 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