Brandon K. Nobles – The Orphan’s Last Parade, 2011

1

At three years old–the kids were told,
their families were gone.
They were dead or lost instead.
Or so the old nuns said.
The cold that year I won’t forget.
like some old country song.

We ran under that paper moon
Our kites were drug along.
we played, and laughed,
we rolled in grass,
we had no for no life boat
we tried to tune into the sun.
just old willows, ragged pillows,
no way would we have fun.

How faraway the brilliant star,
The oft inspired songs
No signal on the way back in
perhaps some sing-a-long.

We went into a bedroom quiet,
With poles of artificial lights,
Back in the bedroom,
All was quiet;
Still colored by the neon lights,
The Chinese candles on the mantle,
Potpourri and incense burning
Logs in fire over-turning.
Washing the room with warmth.

We walked in circles all along,
And never found our way back home.
There was no beacon bright.
Staring at the ceiling, feeling,
Nothing would be alright,
We joined their cult and prayed along
Singing plagiarized angel songs.

2

The nuns came in at night, at ten,
to tuck the children into bed.
No attempt to comfort or console,
she knelt to pray instead.
just a tiny needle hole
–that’s all I need, I said.:

To quiet cries she heard at night-
she gave a piece of bread and rice;
to each child, still awake,
and gave out sleeping pills and slipped,
one into a glass of milk,
they drifted off, into the sky,
no glimpse of Heaven going by.

Drifting further, drifting by, a icy stream across the sky;
Too high to drift, to disappear–
and soon did fall their eyes.
the kiss of death swells in one’s chest
just one more kiss the last.

3

And all the hollow days that followed
for children in a kennels, cage
wagging their tail for minimum wage,
and when the days that follow hollow
the days before it fell tomorrow.
for the children in the cage
Out there at night they turn to stone,
and they had nothing left to say.
hauled up a mountain top along,
and had nothing left to say.
Every night they were their quiet
until some child cried
the children wept, they pined
For some mother bird to find.

4

“The older kids had lost their hope
Parental days were such a joke.
We wagged our tails and
cleaned our hair,
we brushed our teeth and combed
our hair,
as everyday some couple did come in
they opened up our mouths and
turned our chin
and then they all moved on-
looking for some child better-small
a little boy to call their own
and the others weren’t good enough
for a home and shelter, love
Sometimes its not in the cards for us

5

And in the pound my mahtra found,
all was done for naught
We played our games, and we watched tv
and then we talked and we talked
She read the Bible line for line
at each and every story time
and we were fast asleep.
We dreamed of open windows
they were no longer barred
and from the window we could
see the lovely distant stars
Whose light had been fractured
as it passed the iron bars.

6

There were other lost strays,
my bunk mate Adrian, that knew
how fond I was of books
He had his father order them
so I might take a look-
sending books his father did
but somehow could not raise his kid,
and Adrian used to say,
“One day When I leave this place
I want to have a house of birds
birds and never keep them in a cage-”
In that way he thought he’d help
having been caged himself

7

The footsteps at the dawn were soft,
when the nuns descended from the loft
to rouse them from their sleep
I could not sleep, try as I might
in delicate turns and twists the sprites,
Their shadows on the wall.
I covered my head and did not peek
and lay there silent in my sheets
to keep such a seneschal
the tedious watchman of the wall
Where shadow figures thronged to room
the preacher’s face was earnest, gloom
the parents had arrived too soon.

8

*The older kids had lost their hope
potential days were a cruel joke*
I did not wear my baseball hat
it messed up all my hair,
I brushed my teeth in their old sink
and with the others marched
parade – the rubes so polished for
potential parents through the door
their clothes – so perfect starched
Lining up in that old row
*In the middle of the crowd stood
a girl once silent found
she ran up to the front
The parents looked and but to see
that young girl had a cavity
and she was turned away
Forgotten back in the stream of time
those orphans lost their minds*
that all once sifted alas go.

7

I walked amongst the judge, the trial,
and stood there on the stand
I fell, and almost swooned–
I crumpled like a paper man.
My girl she died! Too soon! Too soon!
she died under a paper moon

That night they stood and vigil kept,
for those between the worlds who crept,
the elders hanging on for life,
and the others on the fridge,
Someone just press the reset button
and let’s just try again.
His silhouette and rippled curtain
passed above him to make certain,
that I’d not him to see.
Man the burden, beast excuse,
behind the curtains walk the dolls
the velvet curtain and the shawl,
A silhouette, a certain, that,
like those ones of old who showed
their men across the sea.

22They put on their happy face,
and did not speak a word
they barely talked,
as slow they walked
The orphans last parade—
Their brightest eyes
In single file
a merry masquerade.
They thought about their futures

Yet only saw a grave
Rows and rows into the hill
A gray sky hanging o’er still
That waits for fools, for knaves
That golden meadow by the brook
Two angels and peered and Sol they took
And dissolved into the manhole
Inch by inch they shaped the flint
And walked blind in the winter’s breath
Unable to see their hands
No rope to guide them home

And blind and they find from dust at Everyday from dust to dawn
They always into had they saw
the mirage of a corner store
the electric neon lights were on
12 to midnight, a bag of coat
Honey, put some music on
time to close
And they run
in their white dresses
for their coke
anxiety feels like dying
conscious of erosion of the red blood cells
the shrinkage of the skin around the bones

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