On Sundays

Willie Perdomo


On Sundays we composed our own music.

Tapped a nickel against a mailbox,
pounded the wall with the heel of our
palms, and sought a demo-type sound.

Sundays was the sound of a tobacco patch crashing on the tip of a boot.
The nimbus of gospel & game rejoicing at the feet of laughter & loot.

Saint Martin held us down in word if not in deed.
Santa Barbara held us down in word if not in need.
San Lazaro held us down in pocket if not in feed.

On Sundays, number slips trickled from Maxi’s
sleeves, & dream books slept on discount racks.

Sundays were for your best clothes, which meant that every day was Sunday.

Two birds sat on a crucifix, and grandma’s church
hat was damn near auctioned at the Players Ball.

Sundays were for sonnets & aunties, bonnets & Bibles, a mourning dove nesting near your
window guard, a rumor upgraded to libel, making babies to a faint chirp, & being late
to your Confirmation.

Everything damn near legal was damn near closed on Sunday.

On Sundays, we had to give up a piece of our burning.

WILLIE PERDOMO is the author of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (Penguin Poets), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His next collection of poems, The Crazy Bunch, will appear in April (Penguin Poets).