Small Town Outside of (Family)

Austin Beaton



Boy: inch taller than bee-bee rifle 

crowns himself planet stenographer 

into years later tosses the throne,


but I’m prone to circumnavigate child habit 

and it’s raining weird in California, so, Dad, 

memory you talked nice in the tackle shop:  


it’s really comin’ down out there.

11 Christian crosses point to thunderheads,

God’s colander straining Friday night sounds:


rip his head off, Dale!, kickoff cow bells, pop song 

you can almost name by a jazz band 

sprayed decades towards accountants and pharmacists.   


Earth’s actuary? Teenager binging if-then clauses, 

my drug of choice: the word because. Odds good a father,  

either the mayor or his mechanic,

is 90 days sober & yells, Can it. Not in my home. 


Bets are tonight you can’t see the zodiac 

which the weatherman predicts but wishes could say: 

fuck it, you must know by now—expect overcast. 


Improbable you’ll hear time rain-warp cedar 

or Grandpa’s ghost crying in a closet, water heater hiss:


I can do anything, damn it—build this house, play nose tackle, 

survive Carole’s miscarriage. 

Why can’t I drink two beers then quit? 


Chances the furnace kicks on while he floats back 

to the photo album bought in the only city in Oregon, 


full of images but one polaroid inside my eyelid:

taken 7 minutes after Gramma rowed out her body


to oblivion, leaving dehydrated plum skin,

parted lips without language:

face looking alive like a zombie’s can.




Austin Beaton studied Spanish and Creative Writing and regret at the University of Oregon, where he was a finalist for the Walter and Nancy Kidd Memorial Writing Competition in Poetry. His work has appeared in Peach MagThe Stay Project(b)OINKPorridge MagazineVoicemail Poems, and is forthcoming in Oxidant Engine and the Angel City Review. He lives near the ocean in San Luis Obispo, California where he swallows figs and gives nicknames.