Friday, May 27, 2016




I find him crushing Dad’s beer cans behind the barn
Using his hand this time, his palm bloodied pulp
“It don’t matter,” he says. “Nothing does.”
Someone forgot to milk the cow and the hogs are snorting angry
The air smells like dirt, straw and piss and
Breathing in too hard can give you nasal splinters
I tell my brother he’d better stop that, dang fool
Dang, he says then, Fool smashing an empty Oly can against his knee
“It’s the water that makes O-lym-pi-a beer” he sings laughing
A little crazier every day, becoming more like dad
Whose new girlfriend has made advances in more ways than one

A million miles over, in what we call Fairyland
The sun is a russet Frisbee handing over the prison keys
The horses stir when the Caddy’s engine fires up
Though they don’t much mind can-crushing
Because they’ve seen so much of it
In a jiff Dad and his new one will be out dancing and drunk
Might take turns using the belt on us when they get home later
Might make us do a jig in underwear and high heels
This life it’s a movie set on rewind even if the women change
Even if I close my eyes or pray to every God there is
“You’re gonna need a doctor, tons of stitches”
My brother keeps crushing tin, won’t look at me, says
“Gonna need more than that but it’s too late.”

In in my bunk now listening to him howl at the night
Him wanting to become a werewolf or anything that he’s not
I wonder what the moon thinks of all this
If it’s even the slightest bit angry or frightened
If it’s a good thing or not that our nearest neighbors
Live a county away


What We Have Now

Are the sounds of other children
An overabundance of time, dripping, dripping
The magpie shriek of a door opening,
One that I will never fix
Because I want the shrill sound to pierce me
Each time I enter the room in brave, happy-face
Soaking in the gray and gloom of
The counterfeit space and dust-spackled air
Where our daughter once slept
As peaceful as the plastic doll
We’ve laid, swaddled with cloth,
In her place


The Sticky Gloom

And if tonight the demons win again
Holding forth a new bottle or needle
And you grab hold, plunging headlong
Into that gauzy, sofa air you seek so often
I ask only that you not take
The second hit, the sixth pull, but
Call me by phone or text or whatever means
Just give me the chance to lift you from the sticky gloom
And help you live and see the light
This is your brother speaking, goddamn it,
Your son and daughter
Everyone who loves you
And everyone who ever has


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