By Truth Thomas
Pain cries policeman to sleep—patrolman,
retired, 35. Philadelphia. Back problem.
Bullet problem, lodged like muzzle flash
memories, traffic stop shots. Philadelphia.
Officer down. Officer up. Out. Decorated.
News for 35 microwave minutes. Lead
spear lodged near spine, permanent squatter.
Pain doesn’t retire. Retired police patrolman,
just turned 35. No Fresh Prince: Officer
OxyContin. “North Philadelphia born
and raised. In a Pamper, is where he
spends most of his days.” Incontinence,
his continent. Pain cries nights to sleep.
Pain calls doctor to script relief, holds
for 35 minutes, 3 ½ centuries in blues years.
Tired, retired Brotherly Love man, finally
gets through. Receptionist whips spit
through phone. Dr. Busy, busy, patrolman
told. Appointments do not hop like hares
from hats, Smith & Wesson polishing
policeman told. Doctor, busy busy. Too
busy to three ring scheduling acrobatics
for you, and You need to stop calling here
every Damn day. Pain pulls cane, coat,
cap, from closet, neatly. Pain hails taxi,
makes conversation, pleasantly: Yes, 35
degrees is practically heatwave for Philly
winter…No, can’t say that Iverson was
better than Irving…ring…hall…fame…
helicopter arms. Dr. J, all day long. Pain
smiles warmly, leaves driver good tip.
Pain carries revolver into doctor’s office,
plunks it down on receptionist’s desk.
Politeness springs from receptionist’s
desk. Free samples sprout from clown
cars of her pockets. No $35.00 co-pay
necessary. No further waiting required.
Philadelphia. 3:05 p.m. Man thanks
doctor for un-busying his busy, busy day.
50 Meters Tall
By Truth Thomas
Godzilla feels small as lips of ticks,
yet he roars — thespian, charlatan,
father. This he doesn’t know
we know. His overcompensating fire
is kindled from abuse. Child of
family detonations, his abuse
is nuclear now, for us. He doesn’t know
we know, but hidden under scales,
his secrets kick and scream
until they rocket launch from dreams—
tanker loads of “don’ts” from
Now, he will do the overturning. The
remembrance of monsters has
made him more monster
than monster — skyscraper reptile
of nightly flame throw touches.
It doesn’t matter that we
know. What matters is
By Truth Thomas
The monster roams the countryside,
trigger of equal opportunity, singing
the “Star Spangled
Banner” for NRA
fund-raisers, in jackets made of
“National Anthem” in blood. But there
will be no barks
corner him, chase him into castle fire.
Though some will cry
at his snuffing out
of angels—our angels. His hunchback
lobby is loaded. His
carry extra clips. He is the castle here,
the bullet church,
our god, and he is
faithfully worshipped, like the switch
of lightening used
to turn him on.
Truth Thomas is a singer-songwriter and poet, born in Knoxville, Tennessee, raised in Washington, DC. He studied creative writing at Howard University under Dr. Tony Medina and earned his MFA in Poetry at New England College. His poetry collections include Party of Black (2006), A Day of Presence (2008), Bottle of Life (2010) and Speak Water (2012). He serves on the editorial boards of both the Tidal Basin Review and the Little Patuxent Review and is the founder of Cherry Castle Publishing. Most recently, he guest edited the ground-breaking Little Patuxent Review Social Justice Issue (Winter 2012). He is formerly Writer-in-Residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo), and currently serves on the HoCoPoLitSo board. Thomas’ work has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His poems have appeared in over 70 publications including The 100 Best African American Poems (edited by Nikki Giovanni).