You are reading Fiddleblack #20
I never know when I’m shaking her, making her
wake up to listen to whoever’s speaking
with my mouth: those fools
asleep in the farmhouse, the lights
starting to bleed. The bulbs fill like IV bags.
Zombie deputies are knocking
on the cellar door in search of new freezers
for head-meats. I won’t go
back to bed. Mom and pop’s
been buried alive with feeding tubes
underneath the field. A man’s glowing.
He drives farm to farm, sprays soup
through a hose from the steel tank
strapped to his back. Everybody’s gotta eat.
I start counting out loud
the number of traps set for werewolves
who can’t turn human, the headstones the family
removes, replaces with styrofoam fakes.
In the childhood twist where I struggle
to read and write like a normal kid but can’t,
I like to break a frog’s legs, slice
its belly like egg white, hang it
on the barb of a fence until its heart stops.
I huff gas, start fires, stare numb at hot dads
but I’m a talker. I get in your head.
Barely seventeen, I find my first
lonely, giving daddy
to suck, spit out like old candy.
I flunk out of school but graduate
to the web. I’ll trick you out of your clothes,
beat you when you don’t bend over,
and if you dare tell, deny everything.
In the story that could’ve shifted from his high school sweetheart to my mother,
he arrives fully loaded at our farm one night, shoots cows
to make noise, waits out of sight for my stepdad
to walk blind into the wide-open, white
trap of yard light. A couple of shells and he’s advancing
toward the locked door. I get my mother, brother and sister
out the bedroom window, but with a screwdriver
he’s ripping open the living room screen, reaching inside,
wondering where his boy’s hiding, his mystery momma’s boy.
Come and get me if you can is my taunt
while they escape. Waiting in my room, light on,
door open as bait, I’m ready to say, do anything.
He knocks on my front door for the first time
but I can’t get up from bed or open my eyes.
My hand twitches wanting to answer.
Once inside, it’s darker than the rest
of the dark, but he hasn’t taken a step.
He’s pulling my house
closer, my pillow too, his smoke
in my paralyzed ear, two fingers
like tweezers prying an eyelid.
Michael Walsh is the author of The Dirt Riddles, winner of the Miller Williams Prize in Poetry, as well as the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. His chapbooks include Adam Walking the Garden and Sleepwalks. His poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Chattahoochee Review, DIAGRAM, New York Quarterly and other journals.