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September 2, 2013

by Sean Michael, August 2012

He was twelve,
(we’ll call him Tommy),
Spitting stones from his mouth,
“What’chu need, what’chu need?”

Hustling ain’t easy but somebody has
got to do it if we gon’ eat…
Words of wisdom on the art of survival
Bestowed to a ghetto-child.

You see, it’s more than an act,
It’s an art, survival is,
On the impoverished streets.

He spits a plastic-wrap clad,
chalky-white cube into his hand,
And exchanges it for a twenty dollar bill,
Tonight’s meal.

* * *
For another high,
A dope fiend will do about anything.
Try to sell an outdated cell phone,
A broken car stereo,
A piece of costume jewelry,
Swearing on their mother it’s all legit,
Persistent fiends.
“I just need a taste to get me through.”

The pillaging addict found a .22,
The provider of his next high,
The thick white clouds, his heaven.
The chalky white rocks, the master of his soul.

“Give me the dope, little nigga, don’t play with me.”
“Fuck you.”
That’s about how the conversation went.
Three gun shots exclamated this exchange on the
blood laced, poverty-wrought, drug and money obsessed,
slum-ridden streets.

* * *

Chalk lines mark Tommy’s last days and convey a
sorrowful tale.
His father wasn’t around.
His mother loved him and her other children,
but the crack had her nailed down.

A life is given for five rocks that wouldn’t even
survive the night.
A life was taken for the evanescent high.
POOF … They’re all gone.


From → BLOG, Poetry

  1. Wow so touching tragic. I enjoyed your style with this one. Great job pulling me into the sadness of the story.


    • Thank you. It is a sad story. I had submitted this one and it was declined, but I always held it as one of my better efforts.


  2. “Poof….” I don’t need to mention the tragedy here, it’s in your words. You did a neat trick (not sure intentionally, if so nice job)– in the first part he spits out the “chalk-white cube” and then at the end, Tommy’s got a chalk line that marks his last days–brings the whole poem full circle.

    I really enjoy your poetry and hope you don’t mind me making lot’s of comments. I just like to discuss the process 🙂 ~peace, Jason


    • The chalk-white cube and chalk lines did cross my mind once I’d made it that far into the poem, but it wasn’t plotted in the beginning — it just happened. Serendipity.


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