Munk Hunting

Crazy is a word you
understand later in life.
When the bones sit old,
the jokes with friends leave

stories slashed and scarred.
The story about the summer job,
senior year of high school.
Where the mayor’s son and I,

random clutch of local boys
drove the shit-green truck
around, mowing the empty
unwanted spaces of town,
weed whacking the forest bare.

On that one hot August day
of Jolt and testosterone,
hornet stings and no reason,
the dead thread of the woods
sat still at noon, our lunch eaten

on the hot metal of the truck’s bed
as the small brown
shape skirted the bark of the oak.
The mayor’s son, a half-blonde

streak of met expectations, leapt
from the group, shovel in hand,
racing face in mock scream
as he swung
at the tiny form. Its white tail

in flutter. The cackle of hard work,
of boy’s sweat mixed with the swan song
of Jersey summer. I ran with
the pack, circled the tree in sacrifice,

in urges unresolved. The thud
of the shovel as it crushed the ribs,
the tiny hourglass skull, the munks
fear in mid-flight, it’s last sound-

a tire’s voice before impact, the pop
of my father’s knee and his
body meeting dirt, my mother’s
anger spewing from a clenched

jaw like an ancient curse. As
its body hits the clear cut weeds
at the thick base, I am the first person
to put boots to the bloody body,
burning a memory into a red smear.

When I Was Born

Everything was scissors
and cheap plastic plates embedded in walls
a woman screaming, the panting
of pregnant dogs, wet from their own
piss. Cartoon hands severed, placed
over the ears.

Anger dipped the house in a witch’s
scheme—the fire of beer-stained walls,
rats pushing out the door, mad
men with tiny Samsonite briefcases,
handles gnawed sharp.

This was of the times when
everyone’s dining room smelled
of murder, of brandy bottle shards.
She became the red hand,
the squash, the tender, the slap,
the shriek, the dying flock,
the burning pictures of the family
as the fire set on the couch
spreads to the walls.

Jersey Devil

Let’s pretend,
it wasn’t the devil
that night on the bleachers,
near the dark patch of woods.
His hoofed feet
landing on the barbed wire
fence, in one foul leap,
the brandy in your veins
burns the edges of those details.
You tell me the story,
in your long living room,
its smell of cat piss
and pumpkin candles shroud
the memory, mock
the story as teenage filler.
But you believe it, a belief
in the full moon’s pull,
the mad screams of myth,
you whisper about faith
in a home with no crosses,
a home as habit, of questions
after stories. I still
ask those questions, Mom.
Was that Jersey devil
a friend in a costume? Why
did you stay with dad? Why
did you scald him in the shower,
turning the hot water on full
blast? His screams haunted
the bathroom and I could
see the devil’s wings, red
as burnt skin, in the fogged
mirror’s emotionless stare.
What is real? What really