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.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ed Dorn's # 22 From Twenty-four Love Poems

                                               from Jacket The strengthy message here in #22 of 24 Love Songs can be summed up in two lines: ['There is/no sense to beauty. . .' and '. . .How/ the world is shit/ and I mean all of it] What I also like about this brief poem is the interplay between the title of the book and the subject of the poems (love/anti-love (which is not hate)): it's all a mass of contradictions, like love. And I have to say that the shorter poems of the Love Songs and the last book he wrote before dying (Chemo Sábe) seem to me much better and more memorable than the Slinger/Gunslinger poems. These (generally) later poems probably attempt less stylistically, but are more sure-handed, hacked from a soap bar, maybe. Easy to use, but disappear after use. In any case, Dorn is well worth the reading and re-reading, for me, though he'll never become one of my favorites. And doesn't every poet want that, dead or alive? ;-) #22 The agony

Mike James

 The River’s Architecture for Louis McKee, d. 11/21/11 The river has a shape you follow with your whole body: shoulder, footstep, and ear- those who know how to listen hear how river wind is like breath, alive in lung and line. Mike James makes his home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He has published in hundreds of magazines, large and small, and has performed his poetry at universities and other venues throughout the country. He has published over 20 collections and has served as visiting writer at the University of Maine, Fort Kent. His recent new and selected poems, Portable Light: Poems 1991-2021, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His last collection, Back Alley Saints at the Tiki Bar, was published in April by Redhawk. He currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Murfreesboro, TN.

Jim Daniels

Half Days My daughter, thirteen, pale shred of herself, fought an unidentified infection in her spine as it softened her discs into disappearance. I’d unread that story if she were young and still listened to lullabies. After she got discharged, I set an alarm for two a.m. each night to shoot antibiotics into her port while she slept, her limp arm resting in my hand. Her return to school: half days—follow my dotted line smearing across months of sleepless breadcrumbs— at noon I idled high, anxious in the school driveway rattling off the latest test results in the zero gravity of fear. She startled me with the brittle thunk of the car door slam, then snapped at me for staring at her friends as they strolled across the street to the cafeteria, creeping them out, she said, embarrassed by illness like hard acne or a blooming hickey, wrong music or flakey hair, or the tacky middle-school jumper she no longer had to wear. I was there to drive her to