309. May 1

          LOST.
          YOU LOST YOU.
          FIND YOU,
          LOST–YOUR DAD?

NOT DAD.
OTHER ONE.
NAME I DON’T KNOW.

           STAYED SAFE?

“I used it,
What you said!”
James, proud, spoke too fast.
“How the buffalo
Face toward the storm,
And don’t drift like cattle
Over ledges, or get
Pressed into the sandhills
By the wind.
I faced to the storm. I
Stayed in one place,
Like you said you did,
The piney woods, that time.
By my tractor.”

          Barker nodded sagely.
          YOU DID GOOD.
          He began to sign,
          About his mother–
          Brother–food–

But James did not follow.
Squinting once, then twice–
Hard to focus,
As the fingers flew!
What with thoughts
Of Friday’s baseball game….
James thought: it ain’t news
He’s got no food–
He never did.
But what he don’t know,
On top of that–how
In school, he’ll be
Left back.

          LISTEN. YOU’RE NOT
          LISTENING.

It came to James
That he’d not thought of Barker,
Not even once
Since talking to their teacher–
Her that stacked those papers,
Wore that pin….

          LISTEN. YOU’RE NOT
          LISTENING.

Barker would be left back.
He’s tall now, thought James,
Tall as me. Being in the room
The too-tall-one, head
A spitball target,
Stuck above the kids–
They’d poke such fun–James
Could not imagine.

          RELIEF OFFICE OPEN?
          YES, TODAY?
          LISTEN. YOU’RE NOT
          LISTENING.

Can’t picture it,
Thought James.
I have no idea–a phrase
He’d heard the grown-ups use–
I have no idea.
I wish I could
Play ball, or
Go swim.

          SHIPMENT–
          S-H-I-P-M-
          Barker fingerspelled,
          In his frustration.
          MASHED POTATOES.
          BOXES, DRIED.

Or go read–
If you got tired,
You could close
The book, and skip
The part that was
Too hard.

          LISTEN. YOU’RE NOT
          LISTENING.

James signed:
I CAN’T FOLLOW YOU.

          Barker’s eyes
          Burned a peculiar blue.

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