to build you / Perfectly Nice People : Two Poems about the Foster Care System


to build you.

Mom is barely twenty and strung out on meth.

You didn’t ask to be a leaseholder in this piss-poor house,

sipping her juices like

toxic ground water through a straw 

(the liquid dregs of whatever is left) 

for nine months, give-or-take,

when your muscles and your organs and your mind

needed so much more

to build you from a fleeting moment, to a zygote to 

a human being.


Perfectly Nice People.

The house across the street burst into flames. 

Neighbors line up at the curb, 

slack-faced and gaping,

synching robes tight,

avoiding winter snow and slush 

in slippers and sock feet.

Seeing more of each other then they would care to,

unpacked and disheveled.


Someone says, “My god, there’s a child in there.”


One woman takes her husband’s elbow, “You better go in and get her!”

That husband says to another nearby husband who is

younger and more strapping, “Uh, no, you really should go.”

And it goes on like this, a row of 

perfectly nice people,

discussing and deflecting, 

stagnant as a row of shrubs,

thankful their own children are tucked safely into cotton sheets,

with white noise machines to drown out

the beastly, gnashing sounds 

of fire as it gobbles up

the horizon and its contents,


like a sunrise.



  1. god damn ... these are amazing. More poetry. Please.


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