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Patricia Smith – Ⅲ

For Jermain, Six, Dead in Boston 





Spent bullets sparkle on streets grimy with the thud of winter.

Knives bulge odd angles in children’s pockets, and any one

of their upturned words could bring us another you.

Promising harmony, Christmas carols blare twisted lyric

from behind doors wedged tight.


You do not stop being dead.


Thought it would never be again, but here’s tomorrow,

a snippet of unturned year, no blood spraying its pure slate.

No tiny wreckage splayed there.


The storefront Santa, yellowing beard twisted,

one exposed cheek gin-swollen, still asks his starlit questions.

Not far from his feet, the chalk outline of your body

waits like a slap under the snow for spring to return.