by Gary Hicks

when i was
a child
we children
would masterfully
insult each
the other.
reputations rose
and fell on
our ability to
not be the
recipient of
the last comeback
cutting to the
quick, the last
razorsharp word
to the heart.

we could get
volatile.  there
were things said
that were more
insulting than
the dissing of
our mothers
especially if
such sayings
contained even
smatterings of
the truth.  we
would fight at
the drop of a hat
on a heartbeat
if someone talked
trash about our
home furniture.
orange crates!
someone would
sneer:  y'all
can't afford
and we would
throw down hard.
noses would bleed.
sometimes bones
would break over
those two words:
orange crates.
such mutterings
took second place
only to dissing
a mother or father
who turned out
to be dead.
for too many
of us coming
up poor, orange
crates were all
too real to us
as living room
kitchen, even
bedroom furniture.

most of us who
grew up together
are dead, pulling
hard time, crazy 
or strung out.  i
who have survived
the soft holocaust
of the fifties
and sixties long
ago learned that
words do kill
whether spoken
or unspoken, printed
or censored.  in 
these days i stack
my books and papers
in milk crates and
cardboard boxes
stacked to the 
ceiling.  all of my
knowledge and more
of my ignorance
is contained in
this collection.
i am beyond fighting
over orange crates.
but i live in an
age where i could
die and even kill
over ideas stacked
in guerrilla furnishings.

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