New Stories for September 17, 2018
Lay the flame down
–Light like Apollo
On the flame-moon–
On the tobacco
To the roots
Of the bowl
In your palm
Fire breaths into the crook
Made by the joint
Of the turkey-thigh thumb
And the index.
Elephant and Tiger are chilling, just hanging out. Playing video games in the zoo break room, Madden 19, actually. Elephant is up by 6, with a minute left in the 4th quarter, but Tiger has been mounting a comeback and he’s got the ball on Elephant’s 5-yard line on first down.
Tiger is suspecting something is up though, has been all game. Elephant isn’t up to his usual trash talk, not that Tiger is complaining. Elephant can be a bit vulgar honestly, going on about tusking Tiger’s mom and such. No, Tiger doesn’t miss it. But he notices his friend’s silence.
Tiger’s got more important things on his mind though. 1st and goal on the 5 with a minute left. The game is within the grasp of his merciless paws. He chooses a QB sneak, Tiger’s go-to play, and begins salivating.
He lets 15 seconds run off the clock before snapping the ball. Then the snap. Tiger finds a hole and sneaks the QB through it. It’s an easy glide to the 3, the 2, the 1 –
Elephant pauses the game.
They will expose you.
They will expose the things you did not know you seemed and said.
Worse, they will expose these things you knew you seemed and said
but did not consider significant.
They will consider you endlessly
and from every angle.
Do not love a poet.
They are stranger than even you who love them know,
and they will make of you a metaphor:
breaking glass, a campfire, daffodils, a hat, the color blue.
Worse even than a painter, a poet will transform you from the inside out.
They will take your love and turn the prism
under every source of light.
Your hangnail, your morning cheek,
your clicking needles, the crossword,
the soft places,
Carl discovered the secret compartment in the back of Grandmother’s closet. It only held a small metal box, but Carl had a feeling he’d found what he and Marc, his brother, had been looking for.
He turned to Marc, who was digging through Grandmother’s underwear drawer. Carl was reminded of when Marc was a teenager. Back then, he often went digging through their mother’s dresser hoping to find a few dollars to steal.
“Marc? I think I found it!”
“Good.” Marc slammed the drawer shut. A sliver of underwear stuck out of the top of the drawer. He came over to Carl. “Yep. It sure looks like the box that bitch had.”
“Shouldn’t talk about Grandmother like that.”
Marc snorted. “How many times have you—”
“You are forgetting. She’s in that nursing home—”
“Where she’ll die any minute.”
“She might. She might also live long enough to make your life miserable. If she heard that you called her a bitch—”
“It’s your word against mine.”
“It is. And I won’t tell her. Our agreement stands. But…you have a way of talking without thinking which has gotten worse the last few days. I worry about that. I worry that you might say something when you shouldn’t. You might destroy both of us.”
“OK. OK. I get the point. But you’d better cut the lecture and check this.”
“Yes.” Carl reached into the compartment. He pulled the box out, and set it down on the dresser. Carl pushed the latch, and lifted the lid. It held a small pile of envelopes. Each envelope was labeled in Grandmother’s neat, old-school cursive.