Probation Poem 11-13-17

I drive into the parking lot

of the probation office.

I am not going to write a poem

about the experience today

or ever again.


Wind billows the American flag,

naturally at half mast,

perpetually at half mast.

Just keep it there

and turn it upside down.


I survey the vehicles in the lot:

meth rigs and a pickup camper

with a homemade red, white and blue paint job,

jury rigged with duct tape and baling wire.

Living upside down,

at half mast.


Time to go in.

I bring along Leaves of Grass.

I put my right hand on it

and swear I won’t write a poem.


A man bums smokes

A woman plays Angry Birds

A man hides in a hoodie

A woman fidgets

I hear a man say he has a 1:00 appointment.

He has no idea what time it is.

He has the wrong day, too.


The man now offers to buy a cigarette.

The woman takes him up.

He fishes out change.

They go outside.

I check her face: surface of the moon.

I check his face: faceless.


Sterility. The humming. The inertia.

I feel myself becoming the gray carpet.

I crack open Walt

to glean some life.


Rain begins to collide

against the windows.

The talk moves toward rain.

Two men describe it as “pissing.”

The talk moves toward pissing,

into cups, beakers, tubes,

and training their minds

and bodies for the UA.


We go inside the room.

I hear:

“I’m living under a bakery.”

“I’m journaling instead of drinking.”

“I need one good day.”

“I’m almost out of pills.”


When you hear a man say,

“I’m living under a bakery,”

how can you not write a poem?

Or whatever this is.

I swear it’s the last one,

until the next one.

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