The Preacher
—poetry by Ally Malinenko

He gets on the train.
Excuse me ladies and gentlemen, he says,
Excuse me ladies and gentlemen,
this message is for the parents
I’m out here today talking to you
because there is an epidemic
amongst our kids
and it is as bad
as crack.
Remember crack?
That blew up in our faces,
didn’t it?
Praise jesus,
You know what I’m saying sister.
Ladies and gentlemen I’m here
talking to you about K2
this drug is killing our kids ladies and gentlemen
and at hope house,
where I work near the Marcy projects
we could take money from the state
but we don’t
ladies and gentlemen
we don’t because
if we did we would have to leave God out of it
and ladies and gentlemen that is not going to happen.
Because God is life and life is God
I know, ladies and gentlemen
because I used to be an addict.
I shot heroin into this arm for twelve years
before God saved me, ladies and gentlemen
and now I’m here to save your kids
Thank you sisters, praise be.

He’s still talking but instead of listening
I’m watching the girl sitting across from me
as she quietly
and noiselessly
starts to cry.

And the woman next to her touches her
so lightly
just on the shoulder and whispers
are you okay?
But she just buries her face in her scarf
and sobs to herself

We are all so alone, together, aren’t we?

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collections The Wanting Bone and How To Be An American (Six Gallery Press) as well as the novel This Is Sarah (Bookfish Books). A forthcoming poetry book entitled Better Luck Next Year is slated for publication in 2016 by Lowghost Press.