Delinquent Sonnets

1. In Juvenile Hall

New Juvie has bright paintings on the walls
to celebrate the better things in life:
nature, growth, transformation. These murals
admonish, “Graduate! Put down your knife.”
Mustard-colored cells are stacked in tiers,
windowless, with built-in cots and stools,
where teenagers, alone, confront their fears
and contemplate new ways to break the rules.

The year I was thirteen I ran away
from home and landed here. Back then my cell
had a window. I could watch grass sway
on a hillside, hear jays and warblers call.
More pleasing than a work of art to me:
a glimpse of sky, a hummingbird, a bee.

2. Wild Kid

I finally have become the proper girl
my mother always wanted me to be.
I don’t smoke hash or grass, wear mini-skirts,
pick up long-haired, tattooed men or party
till the neighbors call the police. My last
drunken binge was nineteen seventy.
My motorcycle-riding days are past.
I haven’t shoplifted since sixty-three.

Oh, Mama, what’s to become of me?
I’ve no regrets for anything I did—
the mescaline, the baby at fifteen.
Inside, I’ll always be your wild kid.
I’d gladly wear those mini-skirts again
if I had the legs I did back then.

Lucille Lang Day

First published in Arroyo