Sunday Poem

Street Kid

The window opens to a field of sagebrush—
California country northeast of San Francisco.
The sun burns into the hill.
This night is his first taste
of a new ache in the adam's apple,
the hard, dry knot,
a fresh loneliness.
Twilight whirrs with meadowlarks
and insects crawling down the glass
between the bars, and he,
apart from the other boys,
the cool toughs playing ping pong
before lockup, hears his heart stop
the tear before it leaves the eye.
Injun Joe, the nickname given him
by the brothers, the blacks, the chicanos,
is not afraid of the heart of darkness,
but of his own soul beating like a fist
against the wall.

by Duane McGinnis
from American Indian Prose and Poetry
published by Longman Canada Limited,
Toronto, 1974