Today's poem is by Jennifer Metsker


In sixth grade each day forty minutes free read.
I chose horror novels, poltergeists, paranormal chairs
in pyramid formation, hot spots, a closet that opened up

to the otherworld,
a haunted walk-in that looped and tied children
with will-'o-the-wisp
umbilicals of look into the light,
                                  too soon, too soon!

In my book bag I found

500 pages of possessed clown. Some dead
pass on, not over, what they wanted: a book report
written during my first insomnia (too soon!).

I put a chair by my bed,

for Jesus, because the Christian neighbors said
when they had me to dinner
that Jesus would watch over me
                                  if I offered him a place to sit.

Begat, begat, begat

because books read front to back. At that rate I never reached
Jesus in print. One finger on creation, one eye on the closet.
I wanted answers—plot-driven, mass market fiction.

The Christian neighbors' chained dog

barked all night, then he stopped. Long quiet.
He hung himself by jumping over our fence.
What he wanted: It occurs to me
                                  our new dog was a girl.

(begat, begat, begat)

A slat of the fence broke off. Though they fixed it,
it never would stay fixed—always half a slat
lying in the grass, a glimpse of a rusting swing set.

Copyright © 2007 Jennifer Metsker All rights reserved
from the Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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