a son’s pantoum

after Carolyn Klzer

Where did we come from? We, the offspring of broken people piecing their mouths together each day to cradle nothings into our ears.

Is it we, the offspring of broken people, who must love each other into tomorrow? cradle nothings into each other’s ears? learn to dull the edges of ourselves?

Dad, I will love you into tomorrow; will show you how to mend instead of cut as we learn to dull the edges of ourselves, and bury our hatchets into song and poem.

Dad, we are not beyond mending or cutting. We are instruments of our own choosing, hatchets buried into song and poem, dancing around the sentences we refuse to cut loose.

Remember the instruments we chose? You, the bass; I, the drum? Dancing around this rhythm we refuse to cut loose? Our language, syncopation; born of the broken pieces.

But we don’t have to be where we come from.



Ryan J. is a poet based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a 2018 Cave Canem Fellow, and is a winner of the 2018 Blackberry Peach Prize from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. He is currently working on finishing his second chapbook, “In Spite of Years of Silence.”


Back to Issue: Summer 2018