Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Poetry erupts at any given moment in the 573; I am a most privileged witness.

Change Agents

to find Dely and Mitzi
—both mothers of their own dear broods—
brushing the hair of two motherless girls
two motherless girls named Abby
—one 8, whom I'd met playing dress up next door at Lroxx Utopia, one only 3

Mitzi was gathering the older girl's golden waves in one sure hand at the base of her neck
while vigorously brushing it into a ponytail
and Dely was pretty much doing the same thing with little Abby
save her hair is darker
her loss more recent
sitting on Dely's lap, that loss was weighing on her, weighing

Photo by Steve Hull

The part of me that feels wrecked, beyond restoration, is drawn to the hulking Missouri Mine's State Historic Site near St. Joe’s Park in Park Hills. One black night last year when trying to absorb a bitter disappointment—beyond restoration, unsalvageable—, I recklessly drove there, tears blinding my path on the unlit road, blasting Verdi's Requiem being broadcast by KRCU FM in Cape Girardeau.

I pulled my rent-a-car into the desolate parking lot with its sadder-than-sad plaque insisting “We are not dead until we are forgotten” and, hollowed out like the earth beneath me, dispossessed myself of a massive grief. I opened the moon roof, and, glorying in my operatic heartache, gawked at a dense dark sky bursting of stars, and I broke. I broke all the way down. Sobbed and howled out my hurt at the crushed, elaborate dream I was now going to have to file away in a fat folder marked “Dreams Unfulfilled.” I’d been steeling myself, I had, but when it was upon me it was almost beyond belief that the mandate had been so very brutal, that the scales had tipped so very far toward utter, senseless cruelty.Where was rectitude? Where? Nowhere.

So I’m grateful that this exquisite monument to rapacious exploitation and total abandonment exists, or we would have to build one.

Photo by Steve Hull

Or maybe we already have?  When did our “leaders” make the decision to cross the line from a punishing industry to the punishment industry? The Bonne Terre Prison has capacity for 2,684 prisoners. It is currently maxed out. How many in Potosi? How many in Farmington? The Police State is not some nightmare I left behind in Michael Bloomberg's fascist New York City. St. Francois County is central to the political geography of that police state. There, we said it out loud.

*Awesome. Causing awe or terror, inspiring wonder or excitement.

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