The boys have never seen him, don’t believe he’s real, but the girls all whisper about the latest boogeyman, the Deer Lord they see outside their bedroom windows at night; the deer who wears a human skull over his own face.
I’m instantly reminded of why I skipped the last few of these—the room is all hot breath and squeezed shoulders, and I have two giants in front of me blocking my view. One wears a blue topcloth with the words Garbage to Curb carefully painted across the back, staring me in the face.
For the hole inside you, never filled: a stolen bag of cherries. Spit the pits into your hands and go to sleep with stained palms against your hard, round stomach, pretending you can feel kicking feet.
Imagine her saying, as she settles, “Good God, Ben, my constant pessimist. Give it a rest. I’m not here to fry.” And imagine a pebble loosened from the clifftop, falling. Impacting her skull. There would be damage.
When I first saw that my mother was running for mayor I was in the grocery store. It was the morning and I wasn’t doing too well and the check-out girl was wearing this big blue pin with my mother’s big white face on it.
Stuck in the basement where the TV was, out of Mom’s way, I’d pinch the well-timed edge and prolong the pull-away, the cling of flesh where the glue most adhered, the release, the skin’s snap back to itself.
You’re not the one in the bathtub with screams stuffed like wet rags down her throat, the girl who eats herself inside out with silence, who so desperately needs some help right about now but does not want to be a bother.
My birth certificate is an inventory of negative space. FATHER'S NAME. FATHER'S PLACE OF BIRTH. FATHER'S AGE. All of these data fields are empty, clean of the typewriter keystrokes that might otherwise list all the facts my mother knew.
It’s been a while since I rooted for a straight romance, but I can’t help gunning for this little blenny. He’s turned himself completely black except for his one bright orange fin and now is doing a hell of a seductive dance for the ladyfish.