Small Town Outside of (Family)
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 Mag, The Stay Project, (b)OINK, Porridge Magazine, Voicemail 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.