Amaud Jamaul Johnson

Junior Goes Home

(for my grandfather)


When Junior returned to Texas
The sky caravaned down behind
Him, narrow as the fishing creeks
He often described in his stories.


He spoke of those who wouldn’t leave,
Women who thought California
Was too far, that we’d be sliced
And swallowed whole by the ocean.


He spoke of men who couldn’t trade
Cotton and cattle for steel; couldn’t
Leave home, this family, this history.
Our reunions are pecan smoked


Meats and boiling crawfish
Brought fresh from Galveston,
Where the Gulf is dark as roux.
And Cousin Melvin saying, “it’s good


To see good people on good occasions”
The shirtsleeve of his half-arm
Pinned like the flap of an envelope.
And we ate the sweetbreads, our lips


And chins stained red as guilt.
Junior took off his shoes and socks
His brown feet, creased as parchment
Buried deep in the dark grass.