Expected Shocks

Eggs cr ack in-two

feathered faces.

Eyes open

for the very first time.

beaks split ting,

taste sharp air.

Nights still get cold,

wind still whistles

through open windows.

Insects popping in fire,

in flame

to pierce ears

with the worst of inevitable thoughts.

On cliff edge

death is always tangible.

A resting crocodile,

a loaded spring

flowing smoothly

through liquid glass.

Role playing nose-twitching gazelle

while tiger creeps,

launches-

misses you.

Weather balloons float by,

decide it’s safer to land.

Vast empty sky

speaks knowledgably

of kindness.

Its gentle way,

permanent presence, grandfatherly.

One more step,

take one more step

and you never have to hear the phone ring.

No one sees the water

fall

momentarily

varnish blue balcony rail.

Each year onwards

morbid celebration.

Candle

life

being blown

out.

People are glad

it wasn’t their family.

Tease you

for buying canned corn

(they wanted cob)

a couple hours later.

Wander away,

wonder

if you had not answered

to hear mother’s tears

wash down the line

would they still have sprung

and would oxygen

have continued to fill his lungs?

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Routine

 

Splinters sat stream-lined

under the skin of my hands

from all the work

I helped my father do.

Afterwards we’d sit

sipping lemonade and beer

in our seats on the porch,

soaking swelling in jars of vinegar

as the Sunday afternoon said goodbye.

 

At night the rice boiled over,

cooked dry while the steak

stayed seared on one side.

He’d have my mother

up against the kitchen counter,

his eyes volcanic

with simmering rage and shame.

 

In my room on the calculator

sweat sailed from my brow

as I struggled to stay in touch

with the other students at school.

The sound of a slap

outside my door from somewhere

else in the house

was enough to make my jaw lock shut.

 

The corner of her lip cracked red,

my knuckles white gripping my cutlery,

his glazed eyes.

Around the kitchen table

where my brother used to sit.

And none of us was able

to quite understand where he went.

So there was nothing else to do

but wait until the next day

when the sun was there again

and my dogs wagging tail would tell me

if anything, he at least was okay.