Joseph White


He was only thirteen years old
with coal-black hair
he was the youngest of four brothers and two sisters
they all spoke Spanglish
the mother spoke only Spanish

The father of the brood was killed some years ago
and a wooden fence was built
so the madre could not see the direction
where the padre was killed
the gate was always closed and latched

He wore khakis with knife-like creases
that fell over black pointed shoes
shined brightly with Kiwi polish
his shirt was a long sleeved plaid buttoned
only at the top and worn over a white t-shirt

At the time, this was not an uncommmon sight
where we lived and he was not the only one to roam the area
others were on the streets but mostly they met at school
where gangs of the same look stood apart by buildings
speaking Spanish with one leg propped on the stucco

Even though they called me names over the fence
we were friends in our youth
now we are separate and our differences
have never been more obvious
he is with others like him and I with those like me

And so it went for years and years
i was drafted into the army and went
to Viet Nam, he did not serve
he went to school and earned a degree
and became a teacher, amazing!

We met several years later
and he told me how wrong the war was
like it was of my making
he asked if I did not care about people
this is all he had to say to me

Now I have not seen him in forty-plus years
we had little in common when last
he lectured me, as a teacher will
as then, I find only anger and apathy
for the man, ever a pachuco

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Poem Submitted: Monday, November 9, 2009

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Edgar Allan Poe

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