Carl Sandburg

Came to our school to bless
It in his own name. .
He read one poem each
From the AP English geeks
And chose a few to
Talk to.

His hair was a straw thatch
On a Vietnamese hut
His voice was a porterhouse
Blood warm from the stockyards
Sporting a college degree.

My poem was a tin bowl of white starch.
He gave it sea-brine and dappled
city sunlight when he read. Then
He turned to me in front
Of the whole class, in front of
Patrice and her teacup of
Sexual longing for me

And he said “Stick with it
Son. It’s ok, but don’t think
It ever gets better.”

TBH I didn’t know what
Carl Sandburg did with
The food he ate or if he flew
Over Antietam in his dreams.

But I knew Patrice, and she
Sighed like a Nile breeze over
Baby Moses in his basket
When Carl Sandburg talked
To me.

Later when I held Patrice’s hand
in the empty classroom
I held hands with America,
Herself, and she held my hand
Right back. And giggled.