Three Poems

The Last Good Moment

The morning after that dinner, we will stand
in the kitchen and wrap our arms around each other, 
my head on your chest, your chin resting 
on my forehead. I’ll want to tell you 

that I didn’t mean to say that I tolerated 
when you sat beside me at the restaurant. 
I’ll want to explain that public displays of your affection 
sometimes made me feel like I’m on display 

as a black woman dating a white man. 
I should whisper this to your heart 
but I’ll let us stand there breathing each other in.
Twenty minutes later, we’ll walk to our cars 

like a normal couple readying ourselves for work:
your briefcase and button-down, my everything bag 
stuffed with papers. I’ll declare the last week of August 
as the end of summer, but you’ll say summer has some fight left.

One Degree

We’re in the car when my mother says, 
There’s your uncle. He’s dressed in a camouflage 
baseball cap, white shirt, and dark pants, 
lumbering down the street with two canvas bags.

She supposes he’s going to pay for his storage unit. 
It’s the end of the month.
She doesn’t know where he sleeps 
or who else gives him money. 

The last time I came home, he stopped by 
smelling sickly sweet like roses in the hospital 
two days after someone died. 
I pretended to be asleep.

Seeing him reminds me that I am one degree 
away from wandering these streets 
with a radio, a clean outfit, word puzzles, 
and whatever else I can carry. 

The next day, I was in a hurry to leave Queens.
There’s only so much I can take of the piles of broken 
and unused things, the flowers allowed to die, 
their petals—dried & brown—in untouched heaps.

I stopped at McDonald’s to get breakfast.
If I had gone through the drive-thru 
I wouldn’t have seen my uncle sitting at a table 
in a trance-like nod, same clothes.

Part of me wanted to take my order 
and get on the road. No one 
would have known except me 
and my mother’s God.

I went over not for his sake, but for mine—
the karma I buy in the hopes that in 30 years
one of my nephews will pull out all the money 
from his wallet and crumple the bills into my hand.

​​At the Tian Tan Buddha

Three women stand—eyes closed, whispering 
prayers—then walk in slow counterclockwise 
circles as if trying to reverse time. 

My hands echo theirs, my lips want to move 
but I do not know why. I wish it were that easy 
to let my worries evaporate like these embers 
of incense disappearing into the fog. 

Buddha is focused on a point beyond the busyness—
bodies posing for photos or bending to clean 
little one’s hands, the women in prayer, 
the six bronze attendants and their offerings. 

With his back against the north 
how can Buddha see what’s to come?

PAMELA TAYLOR is a data guru by day and a poet by night. She has a doctorate in social psychology from UCLA, a MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a Cave Canem Fellow. When she’s not dancing Argentinean tango in the Boston area, she’s working on her blog geared toward poets with non-literary careers (

ISSN: 1533 2063