artwork for John Amen's poem Foster

John Amen

Black Richard & pale I spent our sugar years
stomping through woods in search of a devil.
Our sisters swapped confessions on the wraparound porch.
Sometimes at the tack shop
a tourist unfolded his map,
whispered to us of wild beasts & forty nights in a desert.
He slipped us candy & cash
when no one was looking.
We rode that sweet high,
frothed with new ambition,
crashing in the riverbed, those
bellyfuls of strawberry moonshine.
Late morning, money ma clutched her switch,
dollar da snapped his belt, they’d
line us up & count their wards, deciding
who was the favorite of the day.
Six kids in yellow light waited like inveterate gamblers,
each praying they could beat the odds.

John Amen’s Comments

Richard used to say that he felt like a foster kid. I’m not sure what he based that on, but he said it several times. I can sort of relate to that, too, if we’re pointing to the idea of ruptured connections, instability, etc. With “Foster,” I was moved to include a contemporary riff on Jesus while also evoking the horrors one hears about the foster system. I’m pretty sure there was a news article around then, too, that addressed a particularly bad situation.

Table of Contents

Frigg: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 60 | Fall/Winter 2022