Self-Portrait as Midnight Storm

Patricia Spears Jones

Tossing the steel mesh trash cans is so much fun
Not as much as juggling broken umbrellas
Or rocking the yellow taxies or the last of the Lincoln Town Cars
Ferrying passengers drenched and stimulated

The start of a new day and the pitch is black with stimulation
SHIRR SHIRR SHIRR SHIRR                  my sheets of rain

Oh look at the angry boys drunk and holy as they try to mimic storm
The really large guy’s huge fist hits a bus shelter’s carousel

It pebbles to the sidewalk, hundreds of green nuggets
His holy hand unblemished by blood.  Foolish boys

Foolish boys, your anger is no storm and your howling
Bears little glamour—the wolves in your throats have long since left you

And here in the rain, your pain is small, durable and yet
The pebbles scatter about reminders of uglier private deeds.

As for my winds, my rain, my tossing back the moon’s soft gleam
Means little to windows stood still storm after storm—centurions

Of design.  They raise my ire and lash lash lash I throw against
Glass; the sash a square reflection of domestic armature.

As for the painted wood doors—they are so easily broken.

Patricia Spears Jones is a Brooklyn-based African-American poet, playwright, and cultural commentator. She is author of Painkiller, Femme du Monde, The Weather that Kills, and several chapbooks. Her work has been featured in numerous anthologies, including Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, and Best American Poetry. She is also an editor/contributor to Thirty Days Hath September for and Think: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day and a contributing editor to BOMB. This poem originally appeared in Tin House #57: WILD.