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father

Tonsure

Forever you find

              your father
in other faces—

a balding head
              or beard enough
to send you following

<i>Mullus Surmuletus, The Striped Surmulet</i>. (Courtesy Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library, Digital Collections.)

The Grand Temptation

Maybe Cape Cod is fertile ground for existential transformation. Something about the metals in its sandy soil catalyzing metaphysical shifts—I don’t know. All I know is I had my entire worldview rearranged when I was visiting its shores. It happened when I was about seven years old, and oddly enough, it was that moment that would pave the way for my obsession with the naturalist David Starr Jordan, that would cause me to spend nearly ten years researching his life in hopes that it held some clue that could help me when my life later unraveled.

Pediophobia

10.

Dad, you look like a doll
I wouldn’t want to play with, boxed
in your casket. The mortician
tried to paint you pretty.
I wanted to be pretty, too, but mom says
makeup is inappropriate for funerals.


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More Fire

Kwasi woke up somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. What time was it? He looked out the window for a sign of land but there was only blackness and wisps of gray. The boy in the aisle seat who had fallen asleep on his shoulder woke up and looked blankly at him. He looked like he could have been Kwasi’s son. They had the same high cheekbones, the same sleepy, almond-shaped eyes. The boy’s head weighed on him like a great stone, but in the moment, Kwasi felt thankful for it. “It’s okay,” he said. “Go back to sleep.”

Nocturne

Daddy was a slick devil, so he must have thought my sister his
succubus; a mud-bone Lilith, her lurid tresses struck shut with
igneous flicker when it happened in the black. His cinereous 

peepers, glazed over moons which pierced through Tweety Bird
jammies. He tended to sissy’s unassuming sinew with his eyes first
so as to handle the unfathered clitoris with the only sort of care 

Drawing Water

Picture if you will Tony Hoagland
and me, he in his Donkey Gospel
hat and me wearing my Hustle ring,
in his car patched with silver duct
tape and sagging passenger mirrors
discussing vehicles as metaphors

Illustration by Lauren Nassef

Fat Swim

Alice spots the fat women through the second-story kitchen window. It’s Wednesday, so Dad is out at his feelings meeting. She has just turned eight and has been dragging her drumsticks over different household surfaces to see what sounds they make. The sink has been working well—a satisfying ting, ting, ting. Also the panes of window glass—higher, though, and more muffled. The kitten meows on the ledge. Shush shush, Alice tells him, then bops him lightly on the head with a stick. 

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