p hoe ni x li t erar yar t smagazi ne
Fal l2010, Vol . 52, I s s ue1 TheUni ver s i t yofTennes s ee
Frontispiece: Clifford Neal by Guen Montgomery
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Sara Marie Miller
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Fiction A Few Good Men....................Daryl Yearwood
Below the Mountains...............Sam Petschulat
Poetry Cartography..........................Marigrace Angelo
When Crickets Play Oboes.....Daryl Yearwood
Harper’s Five and Dime..........Daryl Yearwood
7 Ways to Eat Toast......................Austin Kodra
Christmas Gunfire.......................Austin Kodra
Untitled Leslie Grossman
Cartography On your thigh, inked lines formed Africa, snaking around the Mediterranean Sea near the coast of Melilla. I wanted to trace the contours of Iberia, halfhidden in the shadow of jersey shorts bunched in your fist like Whitman’s full-handed child playing with cut grass. Drawn to your hands, itching to take their place I asked, why Africa, watched your moss eyes glint. You replied, in short, adventure. Separated by sea, slicing your leg vertically in half, that dark continent struck with want has the allure of blood diamonds. I wanted for nothing but to run my hand along Morocco’s coast, a halfmooned finger nail dotting Africa’s shore for every Canary Island. A sea of laughter bubbled from your lips, cut short by a shout from across the hall. Tempers short, they scowled at us; they wanted us to stop playing cartographer, the seas to be undisturbed by inquisitive hands. But where fingers end the mind enters, African hills seen in National Geographic flooding the right half of my brain. A woman halves an avocado, freshly picked from short fronds five miles south. This is Africa, on a slow day, but I know you’d want a land far more perilous, where hands and scalps dangle from belts, cast into sea to prevent blood-stained cargo. At sea, where eager young white men fly over half a day’s worth of travel, hands clasped tightly, praying out any shortterm regret, replaced with the want to claim this wild west called Africa, wanting to shorten the length of the sea, because it only takes half a hand’s distance to travel from Africa to Iberian shores. - Marigrace Angelo
GoodMen Daryl J. Yearwood
She was trouble from that moment last July when she showed up on Jim’s doorstep —all of her clothes in a Kroger’s bag and a baby balanced on her hip. She pushed past both of us and disappeared inside. Jim stood perfectly still, back straight like a steel rod had been driven into the hollows of his vertebrae. “Dave,” he said, “I swear I don’t know her.” I’ll never know what happened in that trailer, but she stayed, and now, a year later, she’s still here—her, the baby, and all the problems that started with the drinking. Before long, she moved on to harder things and left Jim to take care of the kid. When she started staying gone for several days at a time, Jim paid one of the teenagers to come over after school and babysit until nine or ten. It was the only free time he could get. He would have lost his job if he had one, but the government checks came right on time—payment for three pounds of shrapnel and a knee that won’t straighten. There is enough to live on but not enough to raise her and the kid.
The waitress brings our food and refills the coffee cups. She smiles at Jim, but he is deep in that place of
wanted my opinion.” Jim drowns another cigarette in the coffee cup. He
grenades and trip-wires—his face a death mask—one
stares at his food, apparently surprised that he hadn’t
of those African jobs that is supposed to scare away evil
seen it before. The egg yolks run yellow when he pokes
spirits. I don’t think the waitress is evil, but she must
them with his fork. He mixes the eggs into his grits
be a spirit because one look at Jim’s scowl, and she
and dumps in two spoonfuls of sugar, too much salt,
vanishes. Maybe that’s what he is trying to do—frighten
and enough pepper to color the whole mess a speckled
away his troubles. He smokes instead of eating, and a
black, white, and yellow.
blue haze colors the air. Small tufts of smoke zip by on
“You’re right,” he said. “I don’t.”
currents from the window air-conditioner that hums
We talk about the upcoming Chargers football
just loud enough to be annoying. Three butts float in a
game and how the senior quarterback is sure to get a
half cup of cold coffee that sits between the salt and the
nod from the college scouts. Jim eats while we talk, and,
ketchup bottle’s blood red excretions staining the once-
for a little while, things feel normal. We laugh about
white table cloth.
the bull that took over the drug store parking lot until
The diner is mostly clean if you don’t look too
Frank showed up, tied a piece of bailing twine to the
closely. There are stains on the vinyl seats, and the
bull’s nose ring, and led it away like a dog on a leash.
wallpaper is yellow with age, but in its day, this was
The mood slowly changes until we stop talking and sit
a hopping place—a hangout for teenagers with their
looking out the window.
pompadours and saddle oxfords. Today’s kids drive
Jim surprises me when he says, “I don’t know why
thirty miles to get to a Starbucks in the next town,
I let her stay.” He waves for another cup of coffee and
drink their lattes, and talk about whether or not the
watches a dog try to cross the street getting hit. A break
latest DUI pop-star is going to jail. Steam and smoke
in the traffic gives him his chance and he streaks across,
mingle in the air, and the cook’s “Order up!” becomes
vanishing out of sight down the alley just past the
background noise like Muzak on an elevator.
hardware store. “I couldn’t send her away. She seemed
Jim catches me with a mouth full of hash brown potatoes and asks, “What do you think I should do?” I look up, and he is staring at me. When I could answer, I said, “I didn’t think you
so vulnerable. And then, there was the baby.” “She’s been anything but vulnerable,” I said. “But who is she, Jim?” “Just somebody that needs help.”
“I’m sorry,” I shake my head. “I’ve known you a long time, Jim, and you’re not known for your charity.”
one for miles. It generates lots of talk at the diner about why it’s there, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle
“That’s not very nice,” he said.
of a cornfield. In the early evening mist, it looks like a
“Face it, man. You punched Santa. You hit him. Pow!
flying saucer making crop circles in the corn.
Right in the kisser.”
“Man, you don’t need this.” I’ve said it before, and I
Jim looks offended. “He got in my face with that bell. I warned him.”
always get the same answer. Jim takes out the red and white box of cigarettes,
“Good grief, Jim, he was taking up money for
tongues one from the pack, and lights it—the chrome
presents to give to poor kids. Shaking the bell is what he
Zippo scratched from years of sharing a room with a
bone-handled pocketknife. The sudden flame lights
“Yeah. Well.” He swirls the cup of butts. “He got in my face.”
Jim’s face and casts deep shadows in all of his hidden places. He puffs hard and rubs what’s left of his thumb
The waitress brings Jim a fresh cup of coffee and leaves as quickly as she came.
over the lighter’s MIA emblem. I remember when he had that thumb, and the day he lost it. There was
“Why did you—let her stay, I mean?”
small arms fire, and we dashed for cover, but that one
Jim sighs and stares out the window, his coffee sits
mindless piece of lead found a target. I remember it all,
on the table getting cold.
especially the blood—lots of blood. “Where else would she go?” Jim asks. “I could answer that if I knew who she was.” I know
that isn’t what he wants to hear. “She could go to a shelter. They take in people all the time.” Jim draws hard on his cigarette before he answers.
The drive back to the trailer is quiet—darkness
and gives me one of those strange looks you get from
scream at the black road. I stop the car, and we head
people who seem to have noticed something for the first
for the porch—the crunch of gravel more than enough
noise. Leaning against the rail, we stare into the dark woods. There’s a streetlight off in the distance—the only
“No.” He flicks ash on the ground. “She stays.” He turns
filling the car with a stifling silence while the headlights
“You’re starting to sound like my ex-wife,” he said. “She used to nag me all the time. That’s why I kicked her
“Six-hundred dollars for an aquarium!” I can’t
“You make it sound like I caught you cheating on me.”
believe it. She wiped out all of the money he set aside to buy a more reliable truck.
“You’re not a woman, Dave. Stop acting like one.” “You know what I mean.” I’m starting to get angry, and there is that strange look again. “Is that it? You think we’re that close—some kind of couple?” Jim puts out the cigarette. “Well. We’re not.” I don’t know what to say, so I say the wrong thing. “I’m not your wife, Jim, and I’m not your mother.” I guess we’re not that close after all.
“It came with the fish,” Jim says. “Besides, Dave. You’re not my mother. Remember?” “But come on, man. Six-hundred dollars?” Jim opens his mouth to say something, but closes it, sighs, and tries again. “It’s really big.” What do you say to that? Jim’s been sequestered in his trailer for the last couple of months—not even answering the phone. We’ve only spoken when I take the time to drive to his place,
and our conversations are becoming strained. I tell him that she is using him as a babysitter while she goes out bar-hopping and sleeping with anything in jeans and
She gets caught shoplifting, but Jim is able to get
cowboy boots. He says that it’s none of my business. I
the Manager to let it slide. Plus, there is that whole mess
figure after all the time we’ve spent together as friends, it
with the Priest over at St John’s Episcopal Church—the
certainly is my business, but he tells me to stay out of it.
one she accused of being in league with Satan because he uses real wine at communion, which she never attends. In fact she doesn’t go to any church, not even the
Unitarian bunch down by the river, and they take just about anyone. But the real kicker is when she takes the money from Jim’s cigar-box stash and uses it to buy an
I haven’t seen him since the day I dropped her off
aquarium that’s almost as big as the trailer’s living room. at the trailer. She’d been willing to keep the appointI’m sure that this will push him over the edge, but Jim
ment that I made with the therapist, so I picked her up
takes it right on the chin like everything else she does.
in front of the laundry mat. On the way back, I can tell
that she isn’t even going to make an effort to change.
remember the last time I’d seen him this mad—this
I also know that Jim will be pissed, but I have to try and
agitated. “I’m the one who tried to get help. I’m the one
make him see what’s going on—the way she pushes him
who took her to the doctor!”
around—the way she causes trouble and treats him like a piece of property. But first, I need to talk to her.
“Doctor?” Jim lowers his voice. “You took her to a shrink. That’s what you did!” He looks at me with disgust. “Man, what were you thinking?” This conversation is a bust. Jim has no love for
what he calls “the head police.” After four tours in the Mekong Delta and struggling with the VA docs over his own demons, he has no use for psychiatrists.
Jim’s muscled frame blocks the top step, his Colt
“She needs help, man. Are you going to help her?” I
.45 shoved through the black, sweat-stained belt that
put my hand on the railing with the thought of pushing
he wears everyday like some kind of uniform. I always
him out of the way. “You can’t even help yourself, Jim!
wondered if it was the only belt he owned, but not
Still killing Gooks in your dreams?”
enough to ask. “Go away, Dave.” Jim stands motionless, the ever-present Marlboro hanging from the corner of his mouth.
“Get back in your car.” Jim’s voice is cold. “No.” I shake my head. “I want to see her.”
“You know I’m not leaving until I’ve talked to her.”
“Get in your car, Sarge.”
Jim broke the unspoken rule. He crossed the invis-
We’ve been friends long enough to hope that he won’t hit me. “I just want to talk.”
ible line—the one that has allowed us to stay friends for all these years. We never talk about the war. Ever. There
He puts out his cigarette on the porch railing and
is bitterness in our relationship that started the day he
flicks the butt across the yard, watching it bounce into
re-upped and I didn’t. He went back to the jungle with
the driveway’s limestone gravel. “She doesn’t want to
its enemy-filled villages and tiger-filled jungles. I went
talk to you.” He looks up and points his finger at my
back to a good old American apple-pie life. And he
face. “Not you.”
never called me “Sarge” again.
“This is not my fault, and you know it.” I can’t
I cringe at my own words—at the dark shroud that suddenly falls over his body.
Jim speaks slowly and deliberately. “Get back in
your car.” His eyes focus on mine with a look I had seen before, a look that said I was no longer off-limits. “Sarge.” He stops—makes sure he has my attention. “Don’t come back here again. It won’t go well.” “Is that why you’re carrying the Colt?” I ask “Are you willing to shoot me?” “If I have to.” “It’s that easy is it?” I slowly pull back my hand. “You’d just squeeze that trigger after all we’ve been through?” “All I’ve been through, you mean.” Jim’s face tight-
scared of what I had become—what they made me!” The moment passes, and Jim’s fingers tighten around the pistol grip. “It is easy, you know—killing a man.” He speaks in a whisper. “Easy for me, that is. Always was. Point— shoot—repeat. Just like you taught me, Sarge.” “That was a long time ago, man.” Helping the girl is no longer an option. Jim looks through me, and I know it’s too late. He’s back in VC territory, finger on the trigger, wondering why I’m not beside him. I want to put my hand on his
ens. “I was there when the ambush hit. Not you. You
shoulder. I want to tell him that it will be alright. I want
were gone—back in the States with your happy little life.
to, but I don’t. His eyes clear, and I see him return to the
I was the one who spent a year…” Jim’s voice breaks.
He takes a deep breath and tries to continue. His voice shakes and he fights against painful memories.
I don’t tell him that I know who she is—know that she’s his granddaughter from a daughter that considers
“I spent a year learning to walk again. Not you.”
him dead. A daughter he hasn’t heard from in thirty
All I can do is stand there. All I want to do is run
years. I don’t let him know because I want him to tell
away. For a moment, I see a shadow of the scared kid who didn’t want to go to war, the skinny boy with dreams of kissing Virginia, the hottest cheerleader in school, of cruising McDonald’s parking lot in a jet-black ’57
me. I really need him to tell me—to let me in. I just want him to trust me again. But he doesn’t. I guess he never did. “You’re on your own.” Headed to the car, a metallic click tells me all I need to know. The safety had been off.
Chevy, of being a rock-n-roll star with a girl in every town. “I was in the psyche ward for eighteen months, Sarge.” It’s that little boy’s voice trapped in a broken man’s body. “They kept me there because they were
Untitled Jonathan Phillips 12
Sunning without Cigars Laura Gossett 13
(Left) Tops (Above) Lunker Sara Marie Miller
The following are untitled works by Jonathan Purtill 16
Bonhomie Zach Widgren 20
When Crickets Play Oboes Reality never was her forte— the mind, they said, never clear, thoughts rattled, an earthquake sailing granite below Puget Sound while a cricket plays the oboe— legs in shape-note disharmony. She orchestrates etudes of flight, afraid of b-flat men in lab-coats with smiles, stares, PhD words— disorder, psychosis, delusion. She’s okay with that, lost in symphonic lithium. Her cricket. Her oboe. - Daryl Yearwood
theMountains Sam Petschulat
The mountains soar up out of seas of North Dakota dirt and rise up all around me as high as I’m able to see. They’re like daddy sleeping way up in his bed in the middle of the night, and I’m just a sick kid way down below hazy with a dream still halfplaying in my head a mile underneath him on the dirty carpet. Him all smothered in rolling blankets, still except the steady air flowing into him and back out again. I sit down there on the floor, sick as a little germ, burning hot at that time before morning but after night, the silent-nothing-limbo that you’re supposed to sleep right through while it passes right over you and continues on. But there I am, sneaking my glance at the big secret moment that God tried to hide and daddy sleeps through, but I’ve seen it now, and I’m left with the ache of seeing and knowing and wondering what comes next and if I’ll ever sleep again and if he’ll ever move again or just lie there like the mountains, just how God made them, the same for all eternity. I just sit there down below, watching daddy but watching nothing really, nothing new, just the solid heavy stillness immovable as far as I’m concerned. I’m trying to muster up some courage down on the floor, but not really the courage to do anything, I’m not even that far yet. I’m just trying to pull myself
together to make any kind of decision as to what I
to be asleep, and shows so by sending out his alien
want to do next.
lighthouse signal, lest anyone fail to recognize the
Then I’m really feeling sick as a dog down there,
fog of night blackness for the obvious sign that it
cross-legged on the grainy carpet, feeling long,
is and consequently fail to bow to its expectations.
smooth cat hairs between my fingers that split in
The clock just keeps shifting up there, immune to its
half when I pull too hard as I breathe deep and slow
own warnings as it chugs on, minute after minute,
and lean my bruised spine and head against the flat
independent of me or daddy or God or whoever else
wooden hardness of the wall, putting pressure in
may happen on by to see it.
all the wrong places while I try to balance out the
The longer I sit there the higher the numbers get
comfort of no longer supporting my weight with
till they roll over naturally, and the new hour begins
the discomfort of allowing the wall to do so instead.
with me still sitting down on the ground, back still
So I sit there trading this relief for that pain best as
against the wall, head still wide awake inside a body
I can, bartering and haggling and half-way dozing
that just wants to rest while I wait for something
with aches running through my head and neck and
inside or outside of me to come along and advance
throat and gut down into my legs and pretty much
me to my next action verb.
any other part of me that moves while I wait for
Gradually (and I do mean gradually, as the
something to come to me, some great revelation of
whole process takes at least a quarter of an hour), I
what I want to do, or some hefty bout of courage
start working up the courage and the resolve to act
that’ll permit me to do it.
in some way. Right there in the moment, all I really
The only thing to remind me that time hasn’t
want to do is keep on resting down there on the floor,
stopped entirely in the black pre-dawn dead is
because it’s sure more comfortable than the pain in
daddy’s old alarm clock that he’s had long as my
the butt it would take for me to move. But I guess
memory stretches back, about 10,000 feet up on
partially because of the clock’s reminding me of
his nightstand with the over-sized digital numbers
the hours that I’ve already wasted, I get to thinking
steadily advancing while they project their other-
that those hours are never, ever, ever coming back.
worldly green haze over the room, another unset-
Nothing I’m capable of doing can change that, but
tling sign that even the tiny little computer living
I can keep the forthcoming one from suffering the
inside that clock knows that everyone’s supposed
same fate, and anyway I sure don’t want to sit upright
awake on the cold floor all night, so my mind finally
practically screaming now although I’ve only just
going to have to be done by me (and not by anyone
raised my voice above a whisper, and I poke him real
or anything else) in order to get through my fever-
light on the shoulder hoping this might help without
soaked insomnolence. This truth has crept into my
forcing me to start yelling at the top of my lungs into
head, and I’m well aware of its presence, so now it’s
just a matter of how long I’m going to let myself
Whether it was the slight edging up of the vol-
indulge in ignoring it before I get up and do some-
ume or the tap on the shoulder, this works one way
thing. I tell myself it’ll just be a minute more, but the
or another, and boy does it ever work. Daddy kind
longer I do this the more I know I’m delaying the
of gasps and contorts real frantic for a second, still
inevitable, until I finally reach a breaking point, open
half asleep and not knowing whether I’m me or an
my dazed and achey eyes, and stand up on my two
axe-murderer come to split open his head or Jesus
sore legs to stand by the side of daddy’s bed in the
Christ himself back for the final reckoning. And that
dark. He’s still just lying there, motionless as ever.
bout of his half-asleep hysteria is just enough to scare
I feel a little bad for what I’m about to do, cause
the hell out of me, just a little tiny person seeing his
I know daddy has to get up early tomorrow morning
daddy act all crazy like that. It’s almost bad enough
to go to work, whereas I’ll more likely than not get to
to make me wonder if he hasn’t been taken up by
stay home from school dogged as I’m feeling (such
some awful spirit like you hear about in church on
things are typically the first to cross sick boys’ minds
Sundays or in the stories my friends tell at the lunch
in the middle of the night), but I know I have to do it
table or on the blacktop pavement at recess. I’m
or else just sit back on the floor and wait for time to
watching right before my eyes the only model, the
have its way with me.
only other human in the world that I know to try
“Daddy,” I whisper, probably about as loud as a
“Daddy,” I say one final time, feeling like I’m
starts coming around to the reality that something’s
and emulate best I can, the only person on this earth
pin dropping on a pillow. I repeat that word over and
that I know to watch and study and replicate, the
over again, gradually raising my voice in infinitesi-
living, breathing ethic that I’m doing my best to turn
mal increments, trying to find the exact minimum
into get all spooked and half-crazy with fear all
volume that’s just barely loud enough to wake him
because of my little pokes and whispers in the middle
of the night, and I just get overcome by a rush of fear
and guilt and absolute confusion as I watch all this
carries me over to the old dusty medicine cabinet
happen to the only man I’ve ever seen.
above the bathroom sink and pulls out the right
So I start bawling like the little kid that I am
medicine with his big, knowing hands and pours it
and always will be, gasping for breath through my
in the little plastic cup that usually rests upside-down
sore throat down into my firey lungs, choking down
on top of the bottle and then gives it to me to drink,
waves of my own hysteria that start to fill up my
along with a glass of cold water to chase down the
sick gut as it convulses in and out irregularly as I’m
catching whatever air I can from all around me to
Then he carries me back to his giant bed, where
take in and turn into more of the stale scared feelings
I get to sleep for the night just in case I get to feeling
that I’m all of a sudden so full of.
so awful again but really to keep me from feeling
Of course daddy’s by this time come out of his
awful, since I can’t even imagine feeling bad in my
startle and is only worried about what’s wrong with
daddy’s big sheets, on one of his pillows with his gi-
his little crying boy down there in the middle of the
ant person right beside me to protect me in case any-
night. He sits up and sets me on his lap and wraps
thing should happen. It’s the biggest, safest, warmest
his arms around me and tells me it’s all gonna be
feeling in the world lying there by him, and as I lie
alright and that he’s still there and that nothing’s
there dozing off, I can’t imagine getting sick without
wrong and I just keep crying into the shoulder of
my daddy there. I know daddy’s been gone since be-
his white undershirt, not quite sure what I’m still so
fore I even existed, and I can’t imagine what he does
horrified by but still overcome nonetheless.
when he gets feeling real sick or sad or overcome by
I gradually calm down, and I’m just sitting there
something so much bigger than himself. I think that
in daddy’s lap with his arms around me while he
daddy’s pretty much got to be his own daddy in such
sushes me and rocks me back and forth and asks me
what’s the matter. Once I’m finally done hyperventi-
This thought almost disturbs me a little as I
lating, I squeeze out four inarticulate words: “I don’t
drift off to sleep, but it’s all but overcome by the safe
feel good.” They obviously fail to quite capture the
warmness I feel lying there under daddy’s blankets
vast repertoire of crises and emotions that I’ve stared
with him, as my aches and pains wear away into a
down so far tonight, but daddy still understands
little kids crazy dreams way up in my daddy’s
better than anyone else in the world could, and he
The TV says “Afghanistan” but the TV’s in the living room and I am in the sleeping room eating my way through the 18th Century on the back of a paper worm. Maybe it’s better this way: They do their thing, I do my own on which problems congregate like larvae in the instant grits, fruit flies on my dinner plate, in the garbage can where they procreate. I’m talking: unwashed things in a dirty sink. When things start to stink I crack a window, open a book and once a week I go outside to see how the world looks. The extent of my visit to the Great What-Is-It is my tramp through the trenches of the supermarket where I see young Americans buried alive in little packagings—the rubble of the new world, or washed away in karo syrup shelled by number-one hit-singles from above, where melody mingles with love and promotional advertising.
Out at my car in the parking lot the groan of roadside silence. The asphalt is hot. I balance a plastic bag on my thumb and open my trunk. I doubt for a minute that the quiet is real, like there was a sound buried by other sounds that I’d like to hear but can’t— That I’d like to feel, but won’t— And then I peal out as if chased by hounds but all around me the clanks of street workers, gas stations, banks, resound in peace.
- Amien Essif
Harper’s Five and Dime The failed mill, absent families, yards painted dandelion-yellow. Eczema paint-flakes peel from siding. Old Man Weaver’s broken chimney swims his forgotten yard—sea-monster in a Loch of weeds. Ice-floes of boiling asphalt cut through town. Harper’s Five & Dime, Soda Fountain, and Apothecary ignores the corner of Highway 124 and Mill Road—mute sign, bubonic brass handles, fresh coat of thirty-year-old neglect. Glass shards razor the sidewalk—once windows—once clean— once Piggly-Wiggly. Coyote tracks, circle a stubby yellow hydrant, compete for dark corners behind rusted trashcans. A rattlesnake bakes in front of Murphy’s Barbershop, stands guards over the open doorway. Shingles crumble, highway signs fade—no way to go home again when the foundation’s gone. - Daryl Yearwood
Bruised Katy Smith 29
7 Ways to Eat Toast I Scrambled, bacon and a corn muffin. On second thought, make that rye toast. II While reading the paper, Calvin and Hobbes rubbed with crumbs between forefinger and thumb. III Counting carbs, flat focaccia flax bread. Kids peer at their plates, suspicious. IV Bristle by the boy to grab a buttered slice. I love you is a mouthful out the door. V Naked after sex, short stabs at black slabs from the toaster, forgotten. VI O respite of sunrise, your gold-cratered lips mingle with her kiss and raspberry jam. VII Eyes closed and teeth grind, somehow. Damn Mondays.
Christmas Gunfire I’m certain. The yelp I’m convinced is coming never echoes through bruised night. But I’m certain. A pool of fox blood, tepid and crimson, soaks banked snow behind the shed bedecked with boarded windows and cobwebbed chimes. Young, oily-haired boys suck half-smoked menthols, assure me the buckshot plugged like a spade into soil or struck rock face and kicked through the pines. Shoulder stock solid on bone is as foreign as my pre-incarnated first-born, green eyes strange, sullen face drawn deaf from the blast as gunpowder smothers the cramped back porch. They’ve already forgotten, sipped deeper into Christmas liquor, cheap rum in coffee mugs whisked with diet cola splashes. Railroad tracks atop the bank don’t stray at the seismic twitch of my finger or the corpse that’s surely stiffening in its makeshift hillside grave. Men and metal pose, resonate in street lamp shadows. Canines scavenge the pallid foreground.
- poems by Austin Kodra
Veil Blakely Bannister 32