the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Pamela L. Laskin


at sea
free floating cargo-
human bodies
since no country’s door
not even
a crack.

Lost Boy
     Avonte Oquendo 

He wanders all around, bereft of words
fourteen years of darkness, dare he dream
to walk outside his bedroom, with the herds
of NYC crowds and dormant screams.
He races from the safety of his school,
but now nowhere to turn without a voice
the eyes of Munch betray him as a fool
counting cracks of Queens sidewalks, the only choice.
Frozen stiff inside his body like in space
famished and dehydrated, can’t ask
for water, language grieves. He stands in place
as people push right past him, just a mask.

Mama tries to lift the shroud to find sun,
but clouds conceal the day, so she is done.


of lonely beach,
I walk with the sky

Not certain
but the turn
and piping plovers
hundreds of them
still as stone
gaze at the awakening day.
What are they waiting for?

just  to greet the sun
listen to the waves
smell the sunrise,

as if
this is all
that really matters.

In the Nursing Home
      To Mom

She slouches in the chair
whose alarm will screech
when she gets up.

“What is this?”
she shouts
that this has happened--
the chair,
the bad food,
the hospital bed,
eighty-nine years of living,
and now her hands,
bruised walnuts,
can’t crack open enough
to hold a spoon.

Cracked Sewer

I am so resilient
I rise like steam
to create a cloud
that never waivers in the sky,
though sometimes,
as you dig through the concrete,
there’s a break in the pipe,
and I think
I want to be held hostage
inside this smelly sewer
all that’s been broken
for years,

and for once
not recover
the next moment,
but to penetrate the smells
stay with them
until I am ready
to be cemented back



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