from SCORE

by C. McAllister Williams

I am hungry for something messy, for

a circle of knives. please consider

this a fistfight. please consider

my hand raised in greeting &

the sun exploding. a man will

consider himself an oracle

given the chance. cup

a boy by skunk's

skull. across a creek of saints,

the monk plays his banjo

to lure the young salmon away

from doting mothers; salmon

use levitation. the layman

will see his mother

everywhere. but the true

believer knows the world

loves a stoic, that these things

appear in hatchets

with a sharpness

& spit heroics.

stare down the clowns & offer

a fierce little smear.

wasn't it Kafka

who said that torture

only counts if needles

are involved? I may not know

my history but I know

a barber's toolbox

when I see it. drag

a hustle across my neck:

I'll still paint potted flowers

on your sleeping face.

I'll still play a thumb

piano & save my third

wish as a witness.

wasn't it Shakespeare who

told us that we'll stop

breathing when the dosage

is high enough? First

finger then fist.

my mother only wears

dresses that contour

to her form.

I only wear

dresses that leave

room for my scattergun.

my scattergun cares

nothing for form

or dresses. It prefers

to walk in the saloon

both fists red

with midnight. don't

ask for an explanation

about the fists

—it just happens. my mother has

fists made of lace & blue

china. my fists fit easily

into dresses but prefer

to let the action

air itself out.

I wore a skinny black

tie. I wore a painted

sailor. I wore

a typewriter on my sleeve.

my father wore a switch

blade muzzled in a garter.

he wore a yellow rain

percolating across the avenue.

he'd take pictures of chess

champions in their prime,

science fiction portraiteers fingering

pennywhistles. I bleached

the Russian out with a rag.

I knit sweaters for the beer

gods down at the Temerity Lounge.

I classified the trombone as an accomplice

to murder. I threw

out the first pitch, black

& perfect like a car on fire,

a city made of ash.

grandfather fingered the squeezebox,

played a bone hymn. regard the rattle

bag, see how it wheezes out

of the bucket. at night

I can feel my teeth

hum. they bypass

the arteries to save

the leg, set it in concrete.

two curses uttered down

in the chamber; the reeds—

one a little proud, one

a little sullen. the moon

mistakes science for a straight

razor, shaves the buttons

clean off.

when the heat arrives, grandfather

swells up & bleeds to death. science

calls this a hemorrhaging.

grandfather calls this shaking

the bellows.

I live in Michigan and collect typewriters. Work can be seen in elimae, alice blue review, GlitterPony, Bird Dog, and elsewhere.