Check out this sneak peek of a poem from When the Dead Get Mail, coming in January 2019!
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Flowers from Saturn
I paint each of you, love
Neptune’s lesser known dark spot, feel
Pluto’s chill in the corner of my
bedroom, near a thousand asteroid
eyes of the stuffed animals placed inside
a milky way net. The solar system
hangs from my ceiling, plastic
and precisely measured. Sirius glows
green through putty-stuck stars.
Mercury and Mars break my heart.
I search the spackled skies at night for where
my real parents might be, tucked in some
lonely part of the galaxy.
I sneak into the back yard, find Venus
with a stolen telescope, feel home just beyond
my grasp—just this flimsy atmosphere caging me
like an eyelash trapped beneath
a contact lens.
My mother is there. She has to be. She died
in some space dogfight that no one
could win, even though my father tried
to stop her.
He would bring her flowers
from Saturn. I imagine my father loving her
so much that he left me here, unable
to bear her likeness.
He clung to her legs,
arms wrapped tightly as roots
choking the ground, and begged
can we have it, please,
boy drug across the tile
floor of the kitchen, while she stared
into a refrigerator
coated with smears of ketchup
and a long, thin Coca Cola
stain that branched out
into the little fridge ridges like
his small, grasping fingers.
He don’t know nothin’ ‘bout talkin’.
My mother would tell the
the one with the glamour shot hair
who lived behind the bar.
My younger brother and I
let our feet dangle
against the rail
that kept the stools from bashing
polished wood front.
He talk real dutchie.
We kicked each other beneath the
kicked ‘til our shins bruised.
It took me until I was ten to realize
the Dutch were surely all drug addicts—
the song in the car
sang to us, saying
pass the dutchie ‘pon the left-hand side—
but still I wondered
how you could hold my brother’s
in your hands and pass
it along, like gossip, or something
you could tinker with.
Our older brother was the one
who finally sat us down
for the talk.
You dump the tobacco first
and then add everything else,
rolling it around, tongue lolling
like our St. Bernard did in the back yard
with the garbage.
You gotta get it wet
so it sticks.
You’re good at this.
I wanted to help,
so I looked at my mother—
square in the eyes—
my feet rooted to the tile floor,
with my brother’s.
He wants chicken. He is hungry.
It became a talent.
I’m good at this.
Well howdy, Parvin’
I’m your dad,
our father would say, and
my brother’s hands as tears rolled
down his small face.
He is hungry.
We fought with swords in the
cramped bedrooms—sticks sharpened
to points, old two
by fours from the dump wrapped
with vines for hilts.
His face glowed with excitement
as he screamed hoard fight!
and came at me,
aimed to eye,
hands rubbed raw from
poison ivy vines.
We went to fucky hicken
to have some of the Colonel’s finest.
I played in my mashed potatoes,
told our parents that
were ice cream and that
I was parving too.