This was your domain.
Pocket jingling a handful of brads, flat pencil behind your ear,
you’d bore through the browsers; pay and go.
Always at home with a hammer
and a couple of two-by-fours,
you’d be at the bench,
or feeding boards through the blades,
after you lost at cards.
Not a son, I was in the way—
though I did take shop.
Remember the magazine rack?
All my design,
a clever filigree.
But I lacked
You made it
for me, so I failed.
I was not to touch your tools,
only sweep up after the drill’s curlicue shavings,
just dust the vise.
Now the workshop is as you left it.
The band saw still seems off and running,
its gruff snarl ready
for the knotty pine of your pain.
Mallet out, lids off
baby food jars of hooks and eyes.
Christmas sleds, half assembled,
in the half-paned cellar light.
With you in your box for nearly a year,
Mother thinks you’ll come back
as a blown socket or perhaps a door unhinged.
Pushing my orange empty cart,
I cruise the hardware aisles,
flipping through all the laminated “how to’s.”
I just want to reconstruct you,
fond as I am of the crowbar, clamp, Sawzall,
I’m wrist deep in nail bins, where
another fistful of ten-pennies falls.
I come away with a wrench, nothing more.
A graduate of Vassar College, Sharon Kennedy-Nolle holds an MFA and doctoral degree from the University of Iowa. She has attended the Frost Place Summer Writing Program in 2014 and 2015 as a merit scholarship recipient. This year, she was accepted to the Bread Loaf Conferences in both Middlebury and Sicily. Her poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Dickinson Review, Juked, The Lindenwood Review, The Round, The Syracuse Review, and The Westchester Review, among others, while her dissertation was just published as Writing Reconstruction: Race, Gender, and Citizenship in the Postbellum South (University of North Carolina Press, 2015). Her book, Writing Reconstruction: Gender and Citizenship in the Postebllum South, is available here.
I have never slaughtered a pig.
My hands, though slathered with a sheen
Of melted flesh, are swiftly cleaned
With a simple paper towel.
The cottonwood trees watch. Whisper. A
lyrical business, theirs. Bored by the Wind
River, they turn toward the termite-nibbled
The Pacific begs me to swim away, anything
to keep us from strangling each other
on the boardwalk. The Freakshow
is where our love belongs, a two-headed
oddity feasting on dust and bone
This is how pleasure goes marauding
thinking twenty was happy
thinking faces you won’t believe
wrapped in a smell of hand
When she reeked of distraction, a dozen fools
set out to decant her childhood.
You work with doll pieces and cigar
boxes. Mirrors reflect limbs
suspended on toothpicks.
It’s easy to forget how weird Elvis was, sitting in the Atlanta airport on a Sunday morning, Viva
Las Vegas on every screen,
lined up at the bar with fellow travelers recently notified that alcohol is not for sale until 12:30 this afternoon.
Come chill with me and watch a show
Tonight, whenever, I don't know;
We'll listen to the new J. Cole,
And I will judge your nipple mole
look back, look back
you will be Rorschach
a print of a man
She’s not my aunt by blood,
so I’ve a chance to taste her.