May I Be Excused

“May I Be Excused”, “Staring Daggers and Donuts” and “Hearing I”

In Poetry by J.J. Gramlich

May I Be Excused

May I Be Excused?

After Lisa Marie Brodsky

Dear _________, would you be too upset

if I wrote a poem to cradle the soft skin

of another child with another heart

beating inside me? Will you feel abandoned

if I let them grow to larger than an olive

because watermelons are less acidic?

Dear _________, would you be too upset

If I salt my tear ducts to dry the flood,

If the corners of my mouth rise like a hopeful tide,

or if my pen gets a little less heavy to pick up?

Will your heart be broken if I craft tiny

words on the page and love

them even harder than I did you? Love,

may I please keep writing?

Staring Daggers & Donuts

A chunk of flesh

In an iron glaze

Hangs like a donut

Out the filed teeth

Of a pitbull

Your momma warned

You, because

Their pumpkin-heads

Are far too big.

In the south (Texas)

And south of south

On the edge of fence, snagged

Like a jagged shark

A father looking

Back and back and forth

Daughters missing, windnapped

Skin-too-dark

Girl look out

Burned by the sun-through-glass

A rusted box on 4 wheels

Humps itself free

---welfare lunchmeat

dumpster puppies

Don’t play with those kids

Nothing but trouble

Dirty and broke

They got made wrong.

Hearing I

After Erica Hunt

You sit in a dimly lit courtroom facing Maat.

Her veiled face tilts downward at an oak

board with etchings that you can’t make out.

Shadows slither in the room, shuffling

into position but you can’t see them;

the spotlight is only on her and you.

Sterilized and scrubbed down crows

selected you to represent the human

race. Spontaneously plucked

from your grey-number-crunching cubicle,

a petal ripped off the wilting head

of one flower in a field of 700 trillion.

Delegated to convince Your Honor

that Earth is a fair and just place.

Silence loops through

the unseeable figures behind you

and you adjust your charcoal tie,

preparing to explain why the shoemaker’s

children have no shoes.

About the Author

J.J. Gramlich

JJ Gramlich is an emerging poet, studying creative writing at IUPUI. Over the past few years, he has taken several poetry courses (including two independent studies) and had the opportunity to write an entire chapbook (unpublished).