Juanita Lewison-Snyder

third world

since school is now forbidden,
the closest they can get to news of the outside world
is at the feet of their eldest schoolmate,
who despite the risks, still braids her hair
with tantalizing stories they all know are made up
but none-the-less hopeful,
against a backdrop of soldiers
patrolling their lives daily with words & bayonets,
using rules like grenades to toss randomly
into doorways opened to the heat .

among girls
10 is the new 21--
ripe enough to spill alcohol down their small throats,
stroke dark hair away from eyes stinging with tears,
carving name & rank in their cherry blossom backs
as if their feet were planted deep
in the red mud along the riverbank.

boys fare no better,
a type of livestock to be prodded along dusty roads with sticks,
not to be trusted least they bite and grow horns of their own.
these, laugh the soldiers, regard with an wary eye
and the butt of your rifle.

the years roll on
and thin-boned dogs continue to roam
the ditches and back alleys of suburbia
looking for scraps among debris,
and skittish children still mill in dark places
awaiting the chance to gather for a good story.

I am a poet currently living on the beautiful southern Oregon coast. My work has appeared in such publications as The Beacon, Oceana, Loggers World, The Model Horse Gazette, The Hobby Horse News, and The Brayer. My great-grandfather ran an underground press at the turn of the century in Mexico and was often imprisioned by the government. I guess that's where I got my big mouth.

(author retains copyright)