O My People

To hear James Reiss reading “O My People,” click here. Piggyback, see all the exes, the has-beens we carry.
Our caravan stretches twenty-four/seven from here
to ultima Thule. Our yoke is not easy; with castaway
fetuses, lovers, dead cousins, our burden’s not light.

“Giddyap!” they command, these ghost hitchhikers strapped to our backs,
while we slog through the sloughs up the high roads. “Let’s make
it by nightfall!” they snap. So we break out and gallop till dark,
then lie prone and yawn while they yammer and nag us till dawn.

Do we dream? Hah, forget it! These great-uncles, backbiters, fat
hangers-on, weigh us down with their stories of honeymoons, night-
mares in Gaza, their money-mouthed spiels about going for broke—
while we schlep them around all our lives and show off our bad luck.