January 15, 2019 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION




Matthew Hamilton




Wisdom Begins in Sorrow



I’ve been working the corners

In the city of Baltimore

For the better part of my life.

People done lost their best friend,

Their brothers and sons

Over these fucking corner wars.

This shit’s like Afghanistan. I

Wake up every morning at 5am

To sell drugs because minimum

Wage flipping burgers at McDonalds

Doesn’t support a family of 5.

And who gonna hire me

With my gold teeth and pants

Hanging off my ass? We some kinda

Monster to white folks, anyway,

And the government just sit

On their greedy hands and close

Their unapproachable eyes to the wisdom

That begins in sorrow. Look at the

School system. Where I gonna work

With no education? I want outta

This life, but how can I?

One day, I know it, I feel it,

I gonna look at my kids,

Fucked up in the head

As they pass birthday cake

Through a tiny opening

Of a prison cell,

My hand shaking with shame

Cause all I’m gonna think about

Is getting people high.






When Christianity Goes Bad



When I was a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill

a lobbyist wheels an AIDS patient into the office.


No one, other than me, speaks to him. No one,

other than me, shakes his bony hand.


I can’t help you, I say.


A tear shatters his recessed cheek. Does the Library

of Congress have any good books on mercy? he asks.


If it’s in our country’s best interest, I answer,

handing him a tissue, last one from the box,

and a disposable cup of water.


The man with AIDS soon dies. I wonder how God

is treating him. I wonder how God will treat me

after I die?






Matthew Hamilton

Matthew Hamilton holds a MFA from Fairfield University and a MLIS from St. John’s University. He is a 6- time Pushcart Prize nominee. His chapbook, The Land of the Four Rivers, published by Cervena Barva Press, won the 2013 Best Poetry Book from Peace Corps Writers. He and his wife live in Richmond, VA. 

Editor review

1 Comment

  1. Ionelajo February 01, at 14:18

    Matt, these are beautifully troubling poems. Relevant, universal, risking social commitment without complaint and speaking for those who many see but many do not care to know. Well done.


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