The class had made the chains
of people, hand on cardboard
hand, and now the garbage can

was full when Ezekiel pulled
one out who'd been ripped
away. "This my brother Jay,"

he said. "You know, he dead."
And then he traced a smile
back on the face, and eyes

as bright as suns, and then
in paper cut out guns. He
taped them into place. "Now

he safe," he said. "I'ma take him home.

And on another day he wrote
his name on a paper sheet,
rolled it into a scroll to eat,

took slow bites and claimed
he liked the taste. "Iss like
paste. " Then spitting out

the moistened wads, he
shaped small beings. I thought
of God's bitter words

as if Ezekiel must chew
what the Bible says is true,
as if Ezekiel must tell

all the children who rebel
that they will come to harm,
that function follows form.

How could I say that he must
stay within the lines, that clay
is not to throw. What do I know.

So I gave Ezekiel the chance
to write his own words
on his pants with markers:

"Evil Browns" with s backward
and v upside down, Nife
in red and blue, his brother's

name in black, graffitied waist
to cuff, until he'd had enough
of texts. So I sent him home

into the scrabbled projects all alone.