That Day

by R. A. Allen


      They say That Day is coming.

      "You gettin' shorter, white boy," they say,

      Short for the street.


      That Day comes.

      Put your stuff in a cardboard box,

      Sign some papers.

      The gates slam behind you

      One last time.


      Sunlit fields come through

      The bus window,

      But you're tense, queasy,

      Like standing naked

      In short centerfield.


      On That Day

      When you get home,

      Your woman seems different.

      Everyone seems different.

      But it's you that's different,

      Scarred, marked.

      And it's nothing to do

      With the tattoo.