David W. Landrum
teaches Literature at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.
His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Dark Horse
, Loch Raven Review
, The Raintown Review
, Small Brushes
and other journals.
He edits the on-line poetry review, Lucid Rhythms
—Back to Orsorum Contents/Issue Links—
Gang language, I’ve been told, and I’ll admit
it has a form and some of it comes near
the grace of art, though few would think of it
as anything besides an ugly smear
on all society. Calligraphy
of desperation? Yawping crusade
of the marginalized? Hard not to see
some sign or other in these letters sprayed
on the girders of bridges, on the path
between tenements, on lavatory walls.
On decaying spans of cinderblock and lath,
mark them: sermons, lectures, homilies,
last wills and manifestos—cryptic words
beyond my knowing. I’m illiterate
to what they say to me, these scrawled-out codes
written in warning or in love or hate.