House Guests

We kids,
us boys and girls,
didn’t have any guests
come over to hang with.

Ma didn’t either.
She was fearful of intruders
sneaking into our 13th floor
housing project apartment.

Dad had house guests over,
same ones every few months,
five or six in the living room,
later speaking in hushed tones.

Participants at these meetings,
men and women, white and black,
drank coffee, smoked cigarettes
and discussed left-leaning politics.

Dad could speak with anyone
about anything under the sun,
even if he had to make it up.
Told us he had “the gift of gab”.

When the time came, we went to bed
and got up for school next morning.
Ma went to bed when we kids did.
Dad and his guests were just leaving.

After the door was closed behind them,
we put the cornmeal in water to boil.
Ma put guest utensils aside, to boil later.
We ate the cereal with butter and sugar,

then headed off to school.