"after your father left"


by Dwayne Betts



His broad nose crushed

into soft red

dirt, another scar

kneeling in smooth

brown skin, bleeding

a dark prayer

that slumps like dead

soldiers against

Kodak’s lens. An

old scab peels near

the left brow, blood

a canary perched

on long lashes.

You can tell

he failed to flinch.

Lips tinted black

from blowing dust just

smile as boxer eyes

challenge and the flash

catches only

his face. You hold

the photo, stare

past stubble and

hard times, past scars….

You meet his eyes.

Drawn by this face,

this map that bleeds

purple and walks too

slow through your dreams.