Issue No. 20 | Spring 2019
Quaker Meeting House
A mother sits with her thoughts
and doesn’t notice her boy
squirming next to her on a bench.
In this spare room of silent adults
someone stands to praise Martin Luther King.
Another rises to warn of nuclear war.
It was always March or November
when fallen leaves lingered
mixing with acorns and squirrels.
We met every Sunday on top of a hill
in a house no bigger than a living room—
no deacon no pastor no chorus no choir.
Just a few souls who pushed for change
and a child who wanted to leave.
I used to listen to gangster rap,
wipe that smile off your face
some songs said, or they’d scorn
fake niggers and racist cops.
I wore a black leather jacket and a scowl
and wondered why I couldn’t make friends.
I have seen the discontented
how they melt in front of a smiling child;
hardened felons, the homeless and forgotten,
how they giggle and make silly faces.
Whenever someone smiles, I respond.
That’s the only way to break my defenses:
my leather jacket front,
my grimaces and frowns.