My Brother is Busy
My brother is busy packing for jail. I sit on his bed and watch him
set aside a blank notebook, pen, copy of Genet's "Thief's Journal."
Jean Genet did some of his best writing in prison, he tells me.

I want to say, he was a glamorous playwright in Paris, France,
you are a drug addict-sometime singer in Bakersfield, California.
Jean-Paul Sartre will not be coming to your rescue. Instead,

I say, I'm not sure they'll let you have that fountain pen.
The romance of jail, of positive spins, has captured my brother
in the June-addled San Joaquin Valley. He's hoping that this time

the judge will sentence him to a prison rehab unit. I'm done caring
what he hopes, or so I think, only here to pick up what's left of mine
that he hasn't pawned, then return to school. My first summer

on parole from stomach pumpings, bail bondsmen, high dramas
in the house on Occidental Street. I can write with anything. He removes
the pen from the stack. I can write in dust, I can write with my mind.

Here is the part where the sister laughs, where she may later wish
for a chance at revision. We don't know it, but this is our last conversation.
My brother will be dead in two weeks, I'll be in some other city

when he overdoses on downers as our parents drink double
vodka tonics in another room. I'll get a call at 2 am. Someone
will say, This is your mama speaking. And I'll answer, Who?

--- Candace Pearson
From Wide Awake:
Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond

©2015 Pacific Coast Poetry Series
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