Black Diamonds and Pearls

He tells me of days when even dreams can’t wriggle free.

I see him struggle to hold
the laughing child

once alive inside him,
watch him strain to remember
how beautiful it can feel to be gentle.

There are walls and there are walls,

and now I only see him through gun-proof double-thick glass,
in this place where chained hearts steadily drip
onto already stained concrete floors,
and I don’t waste time telling him

I miss him. I find ways to smile,
even manage to drag an actual laugh through his
ragged lips, and his fingers

aren’t too torn
when they line up mirror-image of mine. He worries, you see,
that I will let go of even this, and I can offer no reassurance

for that same fear has already seized
my own broken heart.

As a mixed-race child of the 80s, Martin Wiley grew up confronting and embracing a world that was as jumbled and confused as he was. His current work attempts to examine what it was to search for manhood in that time and place. For the past few years he had labeled himself a “recovering poet,” but his children’s love of words has dragged him, mostly happily, off the wagon. After receiving his MFA from Rutgers-Camden, he remained in Philadelphia, working at Project HOME, being a dad and husband, and finding time, when possible, to write.