Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Twenty-eight
Spring 2012

Rob Cook

You lived five more hours without identification
at Bellevue before you stopped being sixteen.

The next night you became a street shrine.

Did the candles burning under your picture
help you find a way through the dirt?

Outside your tenement I saw a homeless man
lay down a penny from his stash of coffee-cup Lincolns
next to the bouquets already missing you.

The coroner told the Daily News that even without a name
you must’ve been a good kid,

I found no self-defense marks anywhere on his body,
his hands didn’t do a thing to protect him.

Your mother suffered two hours at the morgue
waiting out the shuffling of papers
before they let her identify the blood bruised to your photograph.

Death took the blue from his eyes and made them hazel, she cried
and didn’t stop for three days.

Your father had no weeping of his own
and repeated all the times you
changed your clothes—three drive-by sports jerseys a day.

The cops made sure there was enough night between buildings to hurt you.

He helped commit a cell-phone robbery. No way for him to disappear
until he testified,
the kindest words they offered.

When the knife found you did it lull you with its rhyming?
What did you see through the red breaking out of your chest?

The hipsters of the Bowery Ballroom stopped to pick
the violets growing in the blood you lost.

Most couldn’t see beyond their own talk.

Did you wake up and try to put the puddles of you
back where they belonged?

Everywhere you walked, the streets turned to wind
ruffling gang colors out of the trees.

The Lanza Funeral Home a crowd of young shirts
who helped you leave childhood.

Your sister, less tall from the wetness falling out of her,
wore red to fill in the room with what you lost—

R.I.P. it’s cold between those letters,

Miss you, your other names:
Whitebread, Milquetoast, First Homicide In The Fifth Precinct.

About Rob Cook

Previous Poem | Next Poem