He didn’t got to Cinderella’s ball.
No, he was born with it hung about his neck-
trotted out at three to visiting company,
displayed as the resident prodigy-
“Ain’t nothing written that there boy can’t read-
here boy, read this-”
someone would thrust a newspaper in his face-
and boy would proceed to read
not making even one mistake;
every apostrophe, every colon and period –
read diligently in their place.
But after those welcome guests had scattered
the boy would be dragged –
back to being battered.
Cinderella’s ball hanging neath his chin-
they’d lock him in closets,
make him sleep on the floor
of the scullery, where the mice and roaches
held their nightly reveler-
Before dawn he’d have to take out slop pails filled
with stale piss to the latrine out back,
he’d pour carefully, making sure never to miss-
He often wondered if the maggots could hear
his presence seemed to bring them bliss.
Kill that chicken boy! Tonight they’ll be rum
and tenders ’round the bonfire!
Who makes a boy of five, catch and kill chickens?
This boy had to, he’d cut their throats with that knife,
making sure the cut was high.
Necks you see, were a succulent delight.
He’d feel their bodies jerk, held them till they died,
but the blood spurting from their severed heads
always felt like it was pouring from his eyes.
He hated killing those birds,
but the more he killed them, the less he cried.
mirror, mirror, no one called,
who’s the smartest of them all?
Gather one, gather all,
around the old library cart stacked
with books, once a week-
And that boy would read.
Lawd he’d read anything!
Wanted to read everything; hoping he was,
that perhaps within those pages
he would find a magic spell,
or incantation he could use
to spring his soul from their abuse,
but all he did was fatten Cinderella’s ball-
There were floors to be scrubbed,
water pails to be fetched and wheelbarrows hoisted,
till his palms were bloodied;
gardens to be tended, sheep to pasture-
At night the light of the moon seemed
like like a dream plastered all in vain,
cause no fairy godmother came..
no pumpkin turned coach-
If anyone else did it he got the blame,
before or after midnight, his soul was fed to pain.
Jesus bore a crown of thorns, he wore a crown of shame,
felt it deep in his belly every waking day-
Kick him to the street!
Let him go beg for meat!
He’s like that bitch his mama, no good!
Look at him! Beat him with this wood!
He’ll amount to nothing – said one wicked witch,
the boy was shaking now, he thought his head would split.
Not many moons thence he was cast beyond the fence,
made to wander valleys of desperation in deserts of malcontent,
he had no defense – except Cinderella’s ball-
now his only guide, and whenever tomorrow showed
that ball shone ‘oft so bright
that soon his magic wish was granted-
For he became invisible, and all anyone could see
was the beast called prodigy, even as the boy cried –
Look at me! Please… Someone, please – just
Look at me!
But he’d been engulfed, the ball was now subject,
ablaze with its own adjectives –
and the boy, that boy-
was only always now, just predicate.