Why We Sing

back when i was a bey-bey kid
the bus driver used to blast gospel songs
on her boom box. our neighborhood
was filled with hard-knocks and hopelessness
nothing to get holy for. but of course
we made a mockery out of her for being
all caught up in the glory, trying to make
us understand God the way she did. yeah
i laughed along with the other kids, but
underneath i looked forward to raising my hands
high to Jesus on that long bus ride to school
and giving him all that i had, secretly we all did.
maybe she wasn’t trying to carry us to school
but carry us to the sparrow in the songs we sung.

Oak Morse is a poet, and theatre teacher who has traveled across the Southeast as a performance poet and teacher of literary poetry. He is the winner of the 2017 Magpie Award for Poetry for the poem “Garbage Disposal” in Issue 16 of Pulp Literature. Other work of his has appeared in the Strange Horizons, Underground, Page and Spine, Fourth & Sycamore, and Patch. Oak currently lives in Houston, Texas, where he works on his poetry collection titled When the Tongue Goes Bad, about a contemporary speech disorder known as “cluttering,” a diagnosis which Oak has worked tirelessly to overcome.