They were telling jokes on T.V. late at night.
They were driving the school bus, lifting
me to drinking fountains I couldn’t reach.
They were talking too much, telling us
to quiet down, they were fixing broken stairs,
they danced when they were drunk, cried
when no one was around. They sounded
like smoking lungs, like too many hours
worked. They were not the first to run
in abandon. They killed in battle on desert
sand, were shot in city streets, they told me
I was weak, they let their weakness lead
them. They enforced sentences, they served
time. They held me while I cried, touched
me when I didn’t want it, didn’t touch me
when I needed. They hated themselves
for it. They wrote poetry, they hated poetry.
They scribed the game rules from books
of their fathers, and yelled when I did not
follow the rules. They were better than
that. My fathers were of every color skin,
accent, tongue. They praised and cursed
and knew no God. They felt the weight
of their predicament, yet could not see
the time-honored bars of their own cage.
Their words were wise and ignorant, soft
and full of rage.
Lizabeth Yandel is a writer and musician based in San Diego, CA and originally from Chicago. She is currently completing a lyric novella about the city of New Orleans, and a chapbook, Service, which is inspired by her long, dysfunctional relationship with the service industry. Her work can be found in Popshot Magazine, Rattle Magazine, and is forthcoming in Lumina Journal and 1932 Quarterly Journal.