I sat on the basement floor of the courthouse reading through old death records. Outside the afternoon sun blasted the streets and sidewalks of the small Kentucky town. But down there it was cool and humid. Whitewashed stone walls glistened and streaked with dirty moisture. An air conditioner rattled in the only window, blocking out the sun.
I got the results from the paternity test and an offer for a new job on the same day. The paternity test was positive; I was the father. The new job was cutting meat at Chives, a specialty grocery store in Boulder. On my lunch break I texted my twin sister Maria that I wanted to share two things with her on Skype. I told my coworker, Lance, the news after work at Hank’s, our regular bar.
Another surly October morning on Rathdangan Farm, the name of our rocky little homestead in the foothills of the Sugarloaf Range, and Mother Nature was in a nasty mood. Her swirling wind bossed the sycamore leaves around the farmyard, and wisps of her clammy fog still clung to the steep mountain peak in the distance. My mother—we called her Mammy— was a whirlwind of work, as usual: milking cows, feeding calves and pigs, washing clothes, holding it all together.
My wife and I are into season 3 of Victoria, the Masterpiece Theatre series that seems as long as the queen’s monarchial reign. It’s a slow-moving narrative in which a tea cup is picked up, put down. Then, for dramatic tension, the camera pans to a terrier that, on cue, lifts a hind leg to squirt on the carpet—a barbarous display in the palace household.
A graphic review of Paige Ackerson-Kiely’s Dolefully, A Rampart Stands
She took the knife out now. Richard had just risen, the mattress swelling with the forgiveness of his weight. He paused at the bathroom door, the light behind him throwing a shadow on the outline of his taut belly. A stiff, wiry hair, strong as an antenna, pointed from his middle roundness. Clara Jayne had the overwhelming urge to pluck it. Maybe even to suck it. He said, “I’m so glad we’re doing this,” “this” meaning the child he wanted and she didn’t.
It’s not like he can just be a rich dude, / my friend says of a guy we know. He has / enough money to keep him from finding / a job, not enough to just work on finding / himself. In money there are so many wrong / amounts. Zero, for instance.
Karla Van Vliet’s lyrical imagination has unearthed for us a tender relic, Fragments: From the Lost Book of the Bird Spirit, her third collection. Fragments is posited as salvaged pieces of an ancient spiritual text, written in an early defunct language (as suggested by the cuneiform-like marks on the book’s cover), ardent lines that are the survivors of extensive effacement and erasure.
« Know that one day the birds will come / for their sprightly cameos in your poems » / « You’ll try to trap them too energetically / at first, in your twenties »
The Destroyer does not just use this line in the bedroom. There is context. Of course, in the core of the earth some liquid and some iron.
I once heard in NPR about a guy in Brooklyn who had a rat appear in his toilet. Apparently it climbed up the pipes and when the man walked in, there it was, looking up at him. No. In this story, the guy first lifted the lid of the toilet. I don’t know if I thought about that fact when I first heard it, but the toilet had to have been closed for it to be true.
The daughters argue / when one begins / to clean. You are erasing / every last bit of him / the younger weeps, accusing / her sister of wiping away / signs and smells of the father
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