Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


I'm a Good Person Because My Childhood Was

junk yard, Goodwill, crushed cans, buy-1-get-1-free, re-runs, dead leaves in the pool, no lifeguard, landlord no English, bounced check, smog check, two—no, need three jobs, back entrance, under the table, no ride after school, loud dogs, mean neighbors, no neighbors, someone died there, FOR RENT sign, up for months, rusted carts, bruised fruit, free bones, just ask, beef tongue, chicken broth, chicken hearts, clouded eye of fish on ice, fry it extra crispy, the house smells like patis and Windex and roses from the rosewater bath to heal the kidney, traffic, church is packed, late for church, not going to church, news of a shooting, news of a robbery, news of the boy raped at prom, pictures of the teens in court, animals!, those crying parents, his crying parents, Rodney King, Reginald Denny, everyone’s yelling on Ricki or Jerry or Maury or Montel and Oprah is on the cover of her own magazine, dentist office, insurance voucher, no social, permanent address, temporary address, magazines with the address torn off, it’s your first time, the handsome dentist says, he touches you and you feel special and rich and white and American and healthy and taken care of, T.C.C.I.C., keep in touch, have a nice summer, we’ll be friendz 4 forever, never change

Credit


Copyright © 2019 Jan-Henry Gray. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.

Author


Jan-Henry Gray

Jan-Henry Gray was born in the Philippines, and grew up in California. He is the author of Documents (BOA Editions, 2019), chosen by D. A. Powell as the winner of 2018 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Gray co-hosts Meanwhile, a zine-making and storytelling show, and lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Date Published: 2019-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/im-good-person-because-my-childhood-was