Do You See?


> This is one of my favorite poems by Joy Leftow. Read more at (clicking on the title too will take you to her blog)

JoAnne is one tough broad,
Italian Irish descent
from the Northeast Bronx
Through sacrifice and dedication
JoAnne is now a nurse at
Presbyterian Medical Center
This is her story
bout a methadone baby
born addicted
on JoAnne’s ward
This boy had tupelo
honey colored skin,
and hazel brown,
almond eyes
Birth mama’s blond and curly haired
A blue eyed Nuyorican
Daddy is a dark skinned African
Mama named the baby Shonequon
The nurses called him “Sweet”
Sweet’s a boarder baby who
lived on the ward
for 2 and a half months
BCW tryin to decide
what to do with that tiny
methadone addicted baby
Now me amiga esta sin ninos
she has no children
e quiere uno mucho
she wants one very badly
so she fell in love with Sweet
talked about him constantly
JoAnne said,
Sweet is cryin all the time
He holds his body rigid
his cryin is so fitful
Kindled by the pain
cause Sweet’s addicted to meth
and this is how he sounds
Sweet’s tiny fists
are always clenched
his spindly arms crossing
his scrawny chest
This baby can’t relax!
He’s got a monkey on his back
Sweet’s addicted to meth
The Doctor confides
he wishes he could
keep Sweet tranquilized
cause he’s screamin so fretfully
JoAnne loves to nurture Sweet
She embraces him reverently
comforts him with the rhythm of her heart
she whispers soothing sounds
her voice falls like soft waves
caresses tender hollows
of his frail anatomy
her soft warm breath
glides down his velvet neck
Sweet responds with purring sounds
JoAnne’s gentle devotions
linger on
like a mango blossom’s scent
fragrant on a breeze
Sweet watches her giddily
clinging with his
tightly gripped fists
Yesterday Sweet smiled for the
very first time
JoAnne bragged
as though he were her own
Sweet, my boarder baby
is delayed in his response
and yesterday was the
first time
God graced me with his smile
Her eyes rimmed with blurring droplets
Dewdrops silhouette
I love him, she said
I want him to be mine
Even though he’s HIV
and surely won’t survive
I want him to be mine
Child Welfare lets his Mama visit
she hardly came at all
Daddy was there
mostly every day
but he was always drunk
Today they let her come and
take my Sweet away
Honey, JoAnne said,
This baby’s in a lot of pain
he suffers from anxiety
You don’t have to hold him
24 and 7,
but you need to let him
see your face
smiling, talking
into his
Sweet’s Mama answered
I know mucho more than you do
let me tell you somethin’
You don’t know what I been through
All my kids are born on meth
and that’s the way it’s always been
The baby started fussin’ then
his spindly arms
clenched across
his scrawny chest
Sweet opened up his eyes
and focused on JoAnne
reaching out his scrawny arms
But Mama reached the baby first
and took him from his crib
Esta te quieto, nino
she said as she rocked him
to her methadone beat
Esta te quieto, nino
It’s gonna be okay Mama said
Grandma said she’s gonna help,
She’s carin’ for my other five
My oldest girl’s gonna be there too
And like I told ya,
All my kids are born on meth
And that’s the way it’s always been,
but we know how to get by.
“Floodlight Reflection” and “Autumn Breezes” are among the other poems that I like on Joy’s blog, also “Mimicking Marguerite Duras: A Tribute “. So, go there, and imerse yourselves, dear readers.

2 comments on “>TUPELO HONEY– a poem by JOY LEFTOW

  1. fleuve-souterrain
    October 23, 2008

    >Finding Joy Leftow was a sudden grace that was heaped on me. She is a wonderful poet, a great benefactor and spreads love around for everyone she gets to know, even if it is a recent acquaintance. Poet, lyricist, essayist, she is Washignton Heights poet laureate and is a vibrant face of the NYC poetry scene… As soon as I read Tupelo honey, the stark reality of the poem struck me… an easy narrative tells this story about an infant born meth-addicted and it takes us to silently wonder how poetry can capture life, rude, unkind life so vividly.Love the stanza:”But Mama reached the baby firstand took him from his cribEsta te quieto, ninoshe said as she rocked himdispiritedlyto her methadone beatEsta te quieto, nino”

  2. Rhett
    October 23, 2008

    >I love this poem, too. The style is very original. To write beautifully in free verse is a sure mark of talent. She’s a great writer.

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This entry was posted on October 22, 2008 by in Joy Leftow, poems, poet laureate, poetry, Tupelo Honey, Washington Heights.
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