"Mama's Got to Work," "Zephr," and "There Is Fire"

Mama's Got to Work

Mama’s got to go now, children,
Mama’s got to go.
The streets are filled with silver, children,
and Mama’s got to go.
The men will buy us bread and milk
and maybe a little wine.
Mama’s got to go now, children,
and bring home something fine.
Mama’s got to go to work
and won’t come back alone.
Mama loves you very much.
Don’t make a sound
when I bring them home.




It’s like a photograph
of a little boy, circa 1963:
striped shirt, crew cut.
He’s wrapped around his father
as the father reads the funny pages.
Tiny fingers drape that big neck,
caught forever in vivid
black and white:
You can feel the smiles.
You can read the laughter.



There Is Fire

Each secret is ancient
and fills us like smoke.
Finally we walk with others
dressed in black clothing
and most things become stone.
Each lie has been told forever
sometimes to trusting eyes
sometimes to eyes more knowing.
Do not think yourself clever.
This is only the music
which puts each of us
to our tasks
and you play it just passing fair.
Each secret is the beauty
we allow to wither alone
as we become smoke
and vanish
like silly promises
of love and always
in the vast and hungry
burning night.



Jeff Weddle

Jeff Weddle is a poet, short story writer and small press historian living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Among his thirteen books are the Welty Prize winning Bohemian New Orleans: The Story of the Outsider and Loujon Press (University Press of Mississippi, 2007), When Giraffes Flew: Short Stories (Southern Yellow Pine, 2015), and poetry collections Comes to This (Nixes Mate, 2017) Heart of the Broken World (Nixes Mate, 2017) Citizen Relent (Unlikely Books, 2019), A Puncher’s Chance (Rust Belt Press, 2019) and others. His most recent volume is Advice for Cannibals (Poetic Justice Books, 2022).


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, October 13, 2019 - 23:12