During my Joe McCarthy childhood I was warned to "Never repeat what you hear in this house," but I didn't know which parts of what were secrets. At home I was told to be proud of friends going to jail, at school I learned prisons are for criminals. The Pledge of Allegiance was so hard to say because I'm left-handed and got my sides mixed up. At age three I realized SP was salt and pepper but I never figured out what CP meant. Still I vividly remember a man who had been with Trotsky in Mexico grabbing my brother by the ears and lifting him three feet off the ground. He brought him straight up in the air saying "Jesus, you're a carbon copy of your father. You poor bastard, you look just like him."
From Present Tense: Poets in the World, edited by Mark Pawlak. Copyright © 2004 by Donna Brook. Reprinted by permission of Hanging Loose Press. All rights reserved.