Moving from Chickahominy
to central Greenwich location

Night before, fake sleep, eavesdrop
Mom, Dad talk in serious whispers

Mom, “Bank about to take garage
How can we buy a house, still eat?”

Dad, “Not sure, but must get kids
into a melting pot neighborhood.”

My stomach flips, my heart stops
Depression will kick us into gutter

My fear shrinks like a deflating balloon
when we set foot into our new home

continue to eat, sleep in beds, gather around
radio; play, fight, learn with siblings, friends

Besides I have more terrifying demons that
march into my mind when the lights go out

Going to hell makes me shudder. Nuns
explode the fear into our minds with

paintings of Dante’s inferno as
price for unconfessed mortal sins

We ask, “What is a mortal sin?”
Nuns reply, “Ones that involves

a grievous matter, sufficient
reflection, full consent of will.”

Huh? That is as clear as the Latin
the priest spouts out at Sunday Mass

To assure no trip to hell’s fire
I declare all my sins as mortal

I include swearing, fighting, disobeying,
lying dishonoring, thinking dirty

Make my every Friday confessional
dump on bored Father Cunningham

For next seven days I fear death
before the next Friday’s dump

There is a fear worse than the
Depression or going to hell

My body crippled by polio
No running, not even walking

Rest of my life in a wheelchair
Constantly reminded of this horror

President talks about it on the radio
Movie ushers pass March of Dime cans

Everywhere, all donate spare dimes to
its cure; cannot avoid thinking about it

When I do, my legs are dead weights
knees quake, mind says I’ve got it

Some of my friends say a doctor
discovered a preventive vaccine

I fear the vaccine will be too late
to save me from being a cripple

I carry this fear until the disease
itself is officially declared dead

Joe Masi is the author of a chapbook, "Poetica de Poetica," published by Prolific Press. His poetry appears in Baseball Bard, Evening Street, Poet's Haven, Trajectory, WestWard Quarterly, and others. Joe is 89 years young and teaches both ethics and political history at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Denver.