On a Day in March
It’s risky to drive past the airport.
It makes me want to go home and grab
My passport from the bedroom drawer,
Fly to Madrid with Ximena,
See Velázquez’s Head of a Deer
At the Prado, walk with Eduard in
Barcelona. (He’ll show us where he
Buys his scarves.) We could even take a
Train to Paris, circumnavigate
Île de la Cité at night, gargoyles
Staring down at us from cathedral
Walls. But, it’s a fantasy. Between
Debts and a leaking roof, travel seems
Unlikely. I’m already teaching
This year at a women’s prison.
We’re Reading an El Saadawi novel
And maybe Antigone, stories
Of characters who don’t compromise—
While my students sit in their baggy
Blue trousers and work shirts, thinking back
To when they were still outside and wore
Whatever they wanted and could go
Wherever their money would take them.
They admire Firdaus who killed her pimp,
And I think they’ll feel the same about
Antigone and her loyalty
To her dead brother. Here, everything
Is a compromise. Coming to class
Means risking a strip search. Someone tried
Last week to smuggle in drugs, so guards
Took them all to medical after
A poetry class to pee in a
Plastic cup and be searched. Some—maybe
Abused, angry—don’t want to go through
That twice, so they’ve stayed in the dorms and
Asked other students to bring me their
Papers. Outside the high razor wire
And the gate, I give back the body
Alarm and, after a stare, get back
My driver’s license. The sky stretches
Uninterrupted by buildings or
Trees. It’s as intensely blue as I’ve
Ever seen it. A passenger jet
Swings in a wide arc toward the ocean.
To the Crow, Cawing is Beautiful
To the crow, cawing is beautiful.
Let other birds whistle, chirp, and coo.
Crows speak the language of street vendors,
Tax collectors, factory foremen,
Signs that say, “No Trespassing,” nurses
Telling you to clear the room. Black wings
Abruptly shadowing the sidewalk,
They come to rest on street lamps, call out
Grim shouts of love and panic, warnings
To small-feathered warblers, sweet singers,
And sparrows to keep their distance. They
Know better than to trust anything
They cannot crush in their beaks and eat.
by George Franklin
George Franklin practices law in Miami and teaches poetry workshops in Florida state prisons. He received his MFA from Columbia University and his PhD from Brandeis University. His poems have been published in The Wild Word, B O D Y, The Threepenny Review, The Quarterly, Verse, Salamander, Matter, Scalawag, Sheila-Na-Gig, Gulf Stream, The Ghazal Page, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Vending Machine Press, and Rascal.