Licton Springs Review

Living Water By Tammy Mae McPherson

A poem is a slap in the face. It’s that tight
Knot around your gut, loosening. It’s that next heart-
Beat. It’s the prayer you DON’T want
Answered, the doorbell you hope won’t
Ring. It’s that 2 a.m. wrong number you’ve thought about for months.

A poem walks down the highway wearing
A sign, “Will work for…”
The food you throw away, the dented
Can, the leftovers you neglected to put away last
Night. It’s the diamond ring you get, when you crave an emerald.

A poem is a fireball: it burns like ice,
Freezes like lava. So use your
Obsidian. Carve your name on that surface.
Express your train so all will
Stand on line to ride it.

Take your train to Chicago. Go in by way of
Locked doors, gun-guarded, drug-
infested, entrenched in gang-
Warfare. Piece together quilts in that neighborhood, for those
Women. Make them work hard for it. Charge them love.

Poetry is religion: English teachers are Pharisees,
Money-changers twist your words, but Jesus throws them out.
Distill your words. When the Last Supper comes, let flow. Make
Judas eat the bloody bread. Give him your thirty pieces.
Don’t let him take the easy way out.