Morning After the Fourth
Leftover Crowning Glorys.
Bottle Rockets, Triple Missiles,
Dancing with Ghosts.
We know how to catch a frog.
Know how to aim our hands––
not for where it hides––
but for the air
it is about to leap through.
After we thread
the Black Cat down the throat
and light the fuse, the tree-frog hops
through the fiddlehead ferns
before it explodes.
When the smoke clears
we handle the organs.
Blood comes out of one
so we call it the Heart.
Nothing comes out of another
so we call it the Lungs.
We find stoneflies in the one
we call Stomach.
Cousin Scott on Lighthouse Mission
Don’t tell none of the fellas in here, but I’m not
really homeless. I’m just waitin for some shit to blow over.
And truth be told, this aint a bad little shelter,
but I wouldn’t even pretend to sleep
if I hadn’t landed myself a top bunk. I got my shit stuffed up
in the rafters and my shoes tied up there too.
Some a these guys go lookin for their size
in the night, or at least for somethin they can trade with.
Anything for a fix is what you need to remember
with these crackheads. And let me warn you:
Don’t shower in here. That’s free advice.
And don’t ask me why I need to give it to you.
Shit keeps me up at night. I thought I saw
some bad bathrooms up in the big house,
but at least I made it out a there
without some kinda mushroom growin on my foot.
I did five years on a drug thing, I don’t mind tellin you.
Five years up at county and four years down
at the university––where you think I got my education?
I wouldn’t say it too loud among this kinda crowd,
but I’m a conservative. Any man with half a head
is a liberal when he’s young and a conservative
when he’s grown, that’s a fact. That’s a nature thing.
But like I said, I wouldn’t say that too loud
in a place like this, where I got a warm bed more or less
and three hot meals a day more or less.
Oh, that’s the other thing: Don’t eat the food in here.
A couple months back my buddy Critter found a finger
in his pudding cup. A human finger, and I aint bullshitin.
It had a fingernail and everything.
Clipped off below the knuckle. A little tiny one.
Looked like a lady’s finger, but it could a been
a child’s just as easy. And the thing is,
before the cops came and took it away
Critter was fingerprintin dollar bills with the dead finger,
usin the butterscotch like it was ink.
He printed about ten bills, then turned around
and started sellin em for two bucks a pop.
And the craziest thing is, folks was buyin em!
Motherfucker was doublin his luck on each buck,
and I wasn’t the only fool to notice. Pretty soon
all the crackheads was takin a extra pudding cup
and tryin to find another finger. Some of these maniacs
is still lookin to this day. Anything for a fix,
like I told you. Anyways, I got mine up in the rafters
if you wanna buy it.
Anders Carlson-Wee is a 2015 NEA Creative Writing Fellow and the author of Dynamite, winner of the 2015 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. His work has appeared in Narrative, New England Review, The Southern Review, AGNI, Best New Poets, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading series. Winner of Ninth Letter’s Poetry Award and New Delta Review’s Editors’ Choice Prize, he holds an MFA from Vanderbilt University. In collaboration with his brother Kai, he co-directed the poetry film Riding the Highline, which won the special jury prize for Innovation in Documentary Short Film at the Napa Valley Film Festival.