You Would Have Killed Him Anyway
Truth this your mama looking down
like a super Indian, saying, Tighten
your braids, girl. Ain’t a man alive
or dead worth that kind of sorry,
though I’m sorry – sorry like I lost
the Lott’ry – that you only see me through
your sorry heart, when I’ve been looping
down from Heaven half your life, pushing
your paintbrush past that half-ass fool
you tailored into a dandy. Damn
the one white man we cottoned
just a Yankee. But blessed girl,
I swear, this grief gon’ get you back
the grist your cousins carry. No more tears.
Mama’s here for a spell and I’m willing
to bet your life. Put it all on red, play
Cookie’s Choice at the casino and build
your beach house buffeted against the sound
of crying. You might even hit the jackpot
at the pound with a little-pawed puppy.
You got years of sand dunes, enough
salt to stomach this indignation,
and a lap tailor-made for four-footed
familiars. You also have a nation
on this red side of Heaven
and we never lost a daughter yet
like we sometimes fear you slipping.
But slipping ain’t fell and, Hell, you fighting
with a double agent. I handled the lightning.
You sift through the ashes until you find
your triple diamonds. They’re sparkling
like waves above the blind eyes of scallops.
Gallop past the past and catch the spirit
of your mama. Gather your courage,
cousins, and let’s gossip on real warriors:
I’ve got ghost stories on your aunties.
Chip Livingston is the author of two collections of poetry and one collection of stories. He teaches in the low residency MFA programs at IAIA and Regis University.