Kevin Mosby firstname.lastname@example.org THE VACUUM We were buying canned pumpkin pie filling at the Piggly Wiggly when she asked me how come I did not talk like a Californian And how does a Californian talk I asked her and she said it’s a talk got no home and don’t know where it come from like a great big vacuum went cross the states east to west grabbed the loose parts of talk not tied down—say to Boston or the Carolinas where the talk’s in the soil—and upon discovering no more land to clean before the sea it dumped there and there it stayed And I said so my talk’s got a place huh? and she said sure does—deep in the gravel or the sand or the desert or the snow or I-‐don’t-‐know-‐wheres, buried like the roots of the longest living tree still living or the bones of a good man died from his own pistol and his widow to save his name puts em down deep so no one will know and they never did and by this time the clerk asked paper or plastic and she whispered which saves the earth more and I eyed the paper and she said paper please And she bought the pie with my money and stood at the exit until I realized she was waiting for me to open the door and once at her daddy’s trailer she let loose the pie from its cylinder onto a pre-‐baked crust and dropped it in the oven and we made love until the ding
Kevin Mosby email@example.com BAD PARKERS The girl wasn’t fixing to mother in that car that night when it was too late and the lord had already damned her. She drove her daddy’s Fiero like out of hell and she never knew when to stop it but when I’d say pull over you want some fun and her foot got heavy as hell quicker than I could unbelt and she shimmied into a spot—two, really: jaggedlike, one tire on the weeds the others on cracked asphalt—in the park by the river and I thanked god he hadn’t given me a sissy of a driver who waits to park till the wheels are aligned and I unbelted and unbuckled and she howled and it was a good night.
Kevin Mosby firstname.lastname@example.org ANEURYSM Make it your youth. Your youth might be sucking on your mother too late so that your father worries you will be queer or you will be a breast man and he hopes the latter’s true because he is and he would not blame you for that. Maybe your youth is the day your tiny body for once does not light up the airbag sign in your father's pickup and he gives you a man's handshake that afternoon after he drops you off from school. And say you ask your teacher what the word dingbat means because your father called your mother one and the teacher says not to say it again. And say your mother forgets to make the potatoes that night and you think, daddy was right when he called you a dingbat. And at this moment you do not care that she makes the crispest fries and the sweetest pies and that you love her more than anyone because she kisses you too much and father chastises her for making you soft. And say that you snub your mother’s goodnight kiss and she cries a little and does not sleep in the bed with your father that night because they got into a tiff and say that night her brain goes berserk and this goes on for sometime and no one was there to hear her. Maybe she survives but just barely and the next day you hear your father sobbing and moaning about how pulling the plug is the only option as the alternative would leave her a vegetable. And say all you can think about is snapping green beans with your mother in the kitchen and hearing your daddy's hum of the buzz saw in the garage as he piddles around doing man's work. Say all this happens. You know you killed her.
Kevin Mosby email@example.com IN THE KITCHEN MY MOTHER LET SIT A FISH In the kitchen my mother let sit a fish for two days too long. It rotted and turned green. Long before, mid-‐July, she bought it and stashed it in the deep freeze where father kept his emergency preparedness kit of water and food and other non-‐perishables. Father feared we’d perish in the winter. Every winter. He readied the basement each September for fear the Midwest snow would trap us in and force us to eat my baby sister—my baby sister who was the last of my siblings born in my parents’ native Southwest, where the winter winds and rains fed the brittle summer clay. Clay so thick and hard as my mother was pretty. Pretty as the rain, father said. The day my mother bought the fish she and I went to our special place in the river where a bigness allowed diving from a high cliff above. I cannonballed. Cannonballed always. My mother swandived. Swandove. Dove like a swan and as prettily. The boys in the river who didn’t have wives or mothers jiggled their nether parts and hooted at my mother. She never blushed. Gave them stares. Bad stares. When the hooting got too loud we went home. That day she said we would buy a fish to store for winter when there were no good fish at the grocer’s. She bought the fish and, for our dinner that evening, a head of iceberg lettuce and a few pounds of beef she would allow me to help her grind at home. At home my sisters and I read and waited for father to come. And when he did, he tussled our hair, kissed his pretty wife. Then it was winter. The snow came. Snowed most days. Most days my mother cried during her evening bath and my father turned up Cronkite loud so as not to hear. One day my mother removed a fish in the afternoon. It sat thawing on tinfoil atop the stove. My mother left for eggs and asked me to stay home with baby sister. The next day they found her car parked. Parked on the high
Kevin Mosby firstname.lastname@example.org cliff. A boy and a girl making love in a nearby parked car said they saw her. Saw her look down at the bigness in the river. The froze over river. They said she swandove down. Penetrated the ice so hard that father said we could not have an open casket. Father entered the kitchen without there being a meal prepared. Threw the rotten fish in the wastebasket, grabbed baby sister and asked her to grind the beef while he smoked and I read the funnies.
Kevin Mosby email@example.com DADDIES Electrified Roy Acuff plays in the Hopscotch bar five miles east of the Dallas County line and I ask myself what are we to do—you slim boys and we fat daddies—when our only buffer is christ the redeemer? Grind and palpitate at the hips to country grooves? Play pretend—call one the man and one the woman? That we do, we two, and I am never the woman. And the hard part, I say to the boy, is women aren’t so bad—‘cept when a road becomes two, a man can take either path, but not both, never. And so it’s for adventure and liberating I restrict my journey to the one on which George Michael plays. But he, the boy, says it’s the protrusion of a girl’s nipple through her kmart sweater makes him flutter nervous-‐like and only the tightness in the butt of a boy’s cords gets him. So then on his Chevy hood beside the bar he and I in fellowship with the lord got saved—struck down by salvation or damnation and we did not care which one—and it was sweet and we went back in for rum and Cokes where he recited the prayer he told to his lord that day in his youth when he trembled to his knees and proclaimed never ever will I, Lord, lie with him as with a woman. And when I asked how he knew he got saved he said, ‘cause mother told me so. And when I said, how come then you do so much lying with hims and not hers he said well ‘cause mother died and I never had a daddy and now he’s got one.
Kevin Mosby firstname.lastname@example.org MY BOONIE RAT BUDDY HAS A HOLE My boonie rat buddy has a hole in his head. Got in the war. Got at battle—battled the big man and lost. Got in the war of the second world. Was in the second world two years. Got a head dent color of blood ‘cause it was—was blood and never went away. Called it oxblood, color of oxblood, that is. Shade of bordeaux , much becoming color on a blouse or a settee but not there, so bald as it was. Raised cain with them desert queens then went down one day. Down in a desert more fit for a camel. A lady saved his life. the surgeon, a lady. Went home. Home to his wife. Wife had a young baby as mud-‐colored as was his pretty best man. Or was charcoal, darker than his wife’s baby. And he got a call. Call from the army said he’d had a son and the lady surgeon wants money but not him. Paid her off the day his wife shacked up with her child’s daddy and he said don’t ya love me and she said, yeah I love you much but like hell will I eye that redbrown gape ‘cross your brow.
Kevin Mosby email@example.com MILQUETOASTY In the mirror he told himself he shat like a man. He told his reflection that when he ran he didn’t flail. Wrists were crisp, sharp but didn’t snap like a woman’s. He got off by himself in the shower on his wedding night. Got off like a man. A good man gets off, he thought. Smaller men, littler men need a woman. He needs a crisp wrist. Only hand. His wife took her shower that night after him so he sat naked, below the fan. Let the air streams brush him till he tingled. Then he walked bareassed to the bathroom. Watched his new wife dry her pale whiteness. Watched through the doorcrack. Her pleasant milk white breasts, their early limpness. Did not mind their wilting. Was pleased he had a wife with breasts large enough to wilt. Looked down. Soon he’d wilt too. Too soon. His wife came out, covered her breasts. Swelling and wilted. Dried her hair, watched herself in the mirror. He imagined cupping the half-‐moons of her ass in his hands. He thought, would this arouse either of them and he decided he’d better not find out. Not yet. Was glad he got a feeling down there at this moment. Then he shat. Shat good. Like a man. Felt manly. The manly man saw her wedding band near the sink. Gave it to her, just as he did earlier that evening. Earlier at the ceremony. Milk instead of whiskey. Parents and inlaws. That evening. She kissed him. He put it on her right hand.