Skip to main content

William R. Soldan

That Night I Left Work with a Pocketful of Cash on Fire

and you went and fucked it up by taking a bullet
through your hand. You never watched
After School Specials, so never learned
not to do stupid shit. None of us did.
He’s in the ER, Juanita said, her voice
so flat and put-out, as if describing how the dog
had just pissed all over the rug again.

You’d been playing around with it,
.25 with the pearl grip and nickel finish,
lifted by some kid from the projects
from his grandma’s top drawer,
the way we did, passing it back and forth
in the lot by the tracks, killing time between
fathers and griefs.

You could still roll a damn fine joint
with your good hand bandaged,
its fingernails caked with dirt, the raw
and ragged hole, the rotten smell of it
like a body bloating in the sun, and after,
with the bones of your metacarpus
tenting upward, a miniature volcano
pressing against the puckered flesh.

It would never heal right, no feeling
but the dulling of dead tissue, the ghost
of the round ripping through it. It pulsed
with heat, you’d said of the night it had gone
off, like a glowing coal or a white-hot wire
stitched along your lifeline.

When the others came, later, penetrated
your breastplate with hot steel and black powder,
I imagined the birth of stars, a whole cosmos
swirling in your sternum. The Y-shaped incision
a question, a constellation.

William R. Soldan is the author of the story collections In Just the Right Light, Lost in the Furrows, and Houses Burning and Other Ruins, as well as the poetry collection So Fast, So Close and, most recently, the novel Undone Valley. You can find him on Twitter @RustWriter1 if you'd like to connect. He currently lives in Youngstown, OH, with his wife and two children.


Popular posts from this blog

David Oliver Cranmer

Not Just Another Playlist Often, I sit in my swivel chair looking out the window, while jazz, country, or rock music plays. This pleasure goes on for many hours a mystic trance of sorts streaming—the glue maintaining my soul. I turn the best songs into playlists (once we called them mix tapes) puzzling over the perfect order. Does Satchmo’s “What a Wonderful World” kick off my latest list or make it the big soulful closer? And does “Mack the Knife” go higher in the set than “Summertime?” That’s an Ella Fitzgerald duet! “Foolishness? No, it’s not” whether you are climbing a tree to count all the leaves or tapping to beats. These are the joys that bring inner peace and balance (to a cold universe) lifting spirits skyward. David Oliver Cranmer ’s poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared in publications such as Punk Noir Magazine , The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly , Needle: A Magazine of Noir , LitReactor , Macmillan’s Criminal Element , and

Corey Mesler

  I think of you tonight, my Beats I think of you tonight, my Beats, and I am grateful.  I walked the narrow lanes of Academia and never felt at home. There were men and women in the flowerbeds, their heads full of theorems and poems. There were teachers who could lift their own weight in prose.  I was lonely. I was too loose.  I was a lad from the faraway country of Smarting. But I had you as so many before me. I had you and I knew secret things. I could count on you like a percussion. And now I want to say: I love you.  If not for you, what? I want to say. If Allen Ginsberg did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.  COREY MESLER has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and New Stories from the South . He has published over 25 books of fiction and poetry. His newest novel, The Diminishment of Charlie Cain , is from Livingston Press. He also wrote the screenplay for We Go On , which won The Me

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg  We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard. The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip  and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer, either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet  in those moments of a cold November day, we watched  a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat  a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that. Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline,