Absolutely Nothing

“Once on a piece of yellow paper with green
Lines
He wrote a poem
And he called it “Chops”
Because that was the name of his dog
And that’s what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
And a gold star
And his mother hung it on the kitchen door
And read it to his aunts
that was the year Father Tracy took all the kids to the zoo
And he let them sing on the bus
And his little sister was born
With tiny toenails and no hair
And his mother and father kissed a lot
And the girl around the corner sent him a
Valentine signed with a row of X’s
And he had to ask what the row of X’s meant
And his father always tucked him in at night
And was always there to do it.

Once on a piece of white paper with blue lines
He wrote a poem
And he called it “Autumn”
Because that’s what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
And asked him to write more clearly
And his mother never hung it on the
Kitchen door
Because of its new paint
And the kids told him
That Father Tracy smoked cigars
And left the butts on the pews
And sometimes they would burn holes
And that was the year his sister got glasses
With thick lenses and black frames
And the girl around the corner laughed
When he asked her to go to see Santa Claus
And the kids told him why
His mother and father kissed a lot
And his father never tucked him in bed that night
And his father got mad
When he cried for him to do it.

Once on a paper torn from his notebook
He wrote a poem
And he called it “Innocence: A Question”
Because that was the question about his girl
And that’s what it was all about
And his professor gave him a strange and steady look
And his mother never hung it on the
Kitchen door
Because he never showed her
That was the year Father Tracy died
And he forgot how the end
Of the Apostle’s Creed went
And he caught his sister
Making out on the porch
And his mother and father never kissed
Or even talked
And the girl around the corner
Wore too much makeup
That made him cough when he kissed her
But he kissed her anyway
Because that was the thing to do
And at three a.m.he tucked himself into bed
His father was snoring loudly.

That’s why on the back of a brown paper bag
He tried another poem
And he called it “Absolutely Nothing”
Because that’s what it was really about
And he gave himself an A
And a slash on each damned wrist
And he hung it on the bathroom door
Because this time he didn’t think
He could reach the kitchen.” – Osoanon Nimuss

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