Pounding the Hammer Against What May Live
Call me carpenter. Shoot me up with splinters. I nail you into existence. You’re safe here in this room with me. I can build us into each other. We can be the trees cut, the sawdust in our eyes as we stare.
We’re photographs, still and lifeless, a magazine of sordid truth. Flat out two by fours you can’t arch your back on easily. I want to watch you rest against a dresser of simple pine. Dusty and imperfect.
Cedar chests where mothers keep secrets, they burn slightly where the screws live like metal lies. Small crocheted clothes, folded love letters, professional emotion scented and preserved.
The easy grey fence surrounds us year after year. Our visits ingrained into the fiber of weathered wood. My brain is a place where you set up shop. When you ask me questions, boundaries line up and bow, performers enslaved in an endless loop.
I’m here with a hammer in hand and a nail against my lips. Ready to build answers, sugar coated and bloody from the saw you’re always placing around my flesh, it’s a new weapon in your hand that you guide easily to find red.
Two words in my mouth,
hard ass bad ass crazy ass,
torn down the sides, reveals a real man.
I know you must have ruined
your career when you left, the person your father wanted you to be
shattered into nights left closed.
Two words in his mouth
yelled across a table in a room
your sister, yourself, your mother,
countless meals of no consequence.
Now your head is shaved. Your boots. Your spine.
Your hands hidden. You’re hidden.
Only new manhood shows like a crease in camouflage.
I loved you. I trusted you. This ends badly.
I write dumb poems about you. Violent moments around my neck.
Push and silence as moving candles create mood,
burn down houses.
I’m the mess you don’t know
you created. One, two, three.
nothing left the field.
Soldiers run home daylight folds, moonlight rips, brides wait.
I’m in my mind on a small bed waiting.
The way you ruined me
like putting out a campfire, a firework gone awry
on your own personal holiday, now it looks patriotic,
but it was always red, white, and blue.
Sarah Lilius is the author of four chapbooks, including GIRL (dancing girl press, 2017), and Thirsty Bones (Blood Pudding Press, 2017). Her work can be found in Luna Luna Magazine, Pithead Chapel, and Fourteen Hills. She lives in Arlington, VA with her husband and two sons. Her website is sarahlilius.com.