Dead Today
By Kara L.C. Jones

And today Little Boy,
my precious dead son,
I bring your purple
inked footprints
on a tiny sheet of paper
to a Poetry Festival.

Poet after Poet reads,
tells of the grieving
they each do in their separate
lives. I am still compelled
to yell out across the crowd,
"My son is dead, too!"

But I am silent,
listening to a grocery list
read by Cervantes--
she defends her grocery list,
says, "that critic was wrong!"--
says, "it is a list of items
from the organic garden,
not a grocery list!" and she is
adamant about this, but I hear
a grocery list--
I must be an ally with that critic
and that terrifies me!
I used to be a poet,
friend to artists!

But since you died,
my dear son,
I am a critic.
I do not trust Life.
I do not even trust
the own writer's interpretation
of her own work!-- I hear a grocery list--

And when I space out
from her reading, my focus
catches that little piece
of rectangle paper
that holds your foot prints.
It's on the gymnasium floor
out in front of me.
It looks as though they might be
my own purple muddy prints--
stopped short--
and although they are your prints,
they do clearly show where I stalled out.

I've seen so many poets read
in two days and thoughts race
thru me about all I want to do,
publish this & that,
host this reading, organize that festival--
but, my dear child, it is all
just busy work
to keep my mind off you,
off your lost life, off the wall,
off the fact that Cervantes is STILL
reading in that HORRIBLE poet voice--
"Ava Maria, Ava Maria"--
It would be a beautiful poem
written for a poor child
who committed suicide,
but Cervantes destroys it by reading
every single line with that voice
where all the lines end in the UP-inflection!
I want to scream at her,
"Come back down from your high horse! Tell me
about the dead girl's life instead of using that child
as a poetic device!" But she wouldn't hear me,
and she keeps on reading like an untrained seal.

And I look around to see
a gymnasium full of people--
even the balcony is full and yet all I see
is a room that is empty of you, my son.
Would you be here with me today?
Your father off to Germany,
would I have put your car seat in the van
I pooled in to come here? Would you have
cried when all the people applauded
for the untrained seal poets (there are several here!)?
We would have had fun, I think.

Some speaker is introducing something he calls
"The body of the poem" and I look down
at your tiny purple feet that have no body now.
And yet you are a constant poem to me--
Would this speaker tell me you aren't real?

And now some poet reads,
"Dear God, Tether Me..."
and I echo his prayer,
ask the Goddess to tether me
to you, my son, keep my heart
open to hearing you crying
from the OtherSide,
keep me awake to Life,
aware of Death, so that I might
continue to create
poems about the impression
of your dead body pressing
on my bladder as the doctor scanned,
said "Your baby has no heartbeat."

And the poet on stage says,
"Geese are monogamous & hunting them
is forbidden because if you kill one,
you kill two."
God took you, my son,
and I have been dead ever since.
Even at this event in early May,
even with all these hip poets I am
on the gym floor,
tiny purple prints
of your dead feet
on the same floor
leading me no where.

For Dakota Jones
born dead on
March 11, 1999
at 4:47pm


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