Mother Died Tomorrow
nasturtium epoxy ulcer unguent words she can’t define delinquent flamingo invisible powerboat words she can’t pronounce death of Uncle Aminadab anniversary trip to Boulder birth of Joey birth of Joey Jr memories that no longer exist the golf course fire the wedding by the lake the Christmas the car wouldn’t start skylights in the bedroom memories that no longer make sense to serene a ballerina to quickly the stars to immunize the income tax to remarry Guadalcanal her dreams radish hearts Sinai nights a vanished autumn a burnished cross her hopes because unless whatever although subordinating conjunctions she mistakes for nouns
This poem originally appeared in Blasphemer (Lit Fest Press 2015).
"Jesus was a zombie?" I ask, shocked. My red-faced uncle turns towards me with a look of surprise on his face. Absolutely! He was the King of the Zombies. He was one of the first to die and then come back so he’s among the original undead. Sly zombie. Very crafty, let me tell you— gets people to eat his body and drink his blood, and when they do, they belong to him—forever! He not only eats their brains, but he also devours their hearts, and then they can never die. Watch out for this Jesus fella. He’s coming after you. And he’ll never stop chasing you down. "What’ll I do if I see him?" I ask, shaking in my chair. Cross your fingers like this— that’ll make him think you’re one of them, and he’ll leave you be. "What lies are you telling my boy?" my dad shouts running up from the basement. He grabs Uncle Shaw by the shirt, jerks him up, starts to choke him. Hey, take it easy, brother! Just teaching the kid to fear the Lord.
This poem appeared in Blasphemer (Lit Fest Press 2015).
The Best Banana Bread
Ed Raglan was a spoiled banana no one wanted to touch. Inexcusably bruised, the kid turned rotten, descending into dice and mash and reds and chew. I couldn't understand anything he said. Like "My car has acne." He means rust, my father explained. Like "I want surgery for dinner." He means takeout said my mom. I flexed my ego. I dismissed him as unlettered, a no account, a rube. My arrogance was raging and rancid. The condescension of a thirteen-year-old punk has no peer. Thank God we don't stay thirteen forever. I thought my neighbor, drug addict, alcoholic, tobacco addict, gambling addict, a total failure. What of my own addictions? Who am I to judge him? I thought my neighbor unsophisticated. No acquaintance with literature or art, ignorant of any kind of culture or class. Turns out he thought in metaphor, which Aristotle calls genius. I thought that a banana that had turned black from age was garbage. Turns out that sour milk and black bananas make the best banana bread.
This poem appeared in The Vig of Love (Glass Lyre Press 2016).
Bill Yarrow, Professor of English at Joliet Junior College and an editor at the online journal Blue Fifth Review, is the author of The Vig of Love, Blasphemer, Pointed Sentences, and five chapbooks. His work also appears in the anthologies Aeolian Harp, Volume One; This is Poetry: Volume Two: The Midwest Poets; and Beginnings: How 14 Poets Got Their Start. He has been nominated eight times for a Pushcart Prize.