We pack the weeks and months
on our backs, mashing them down
until they blend into each other, become
different than they were when we leaned
over deck rails to watch dolphins play
or lay side by side caressing each other
with the tips of our fingers. We carry things
that our parents shifted onto our shoulders
and things that our children leave us. Coolies
scrambling towards destinations that we’ve only heard
about and may not recognize when we arrive,
we grow so accustomed to our burdens
we consider them part of our bones and souls.
We even carry things that we don’t know
we have and can’t identify. When we get so tired
and think we can’t go on any further
we start to feel guilty about not doing our share
and continue bent beneath what has become
identity and definition, always in hopes that some
reward awaits our having served the accidents
that our ancestors let slip away to shape us.
Journalist, poet and onetime theater director, Robert Joe Stout has Monkey Screams, a collection of poetry, available from Amazon and FutureCycle Press. He lives in Oaxaca, Mexico where he writes nonfiction for such publications as New Politics, America and The Monthly Review.