Man in Fire
Drill into the hearth board until you get punk.
Humming birds harass my shoulders
and mosquitos bite my ears.
I think of fire before I ever see flame,
but I’ve always been that way.
My knuckles change color, sensing thunderstorms
and I burn that oak spindle into my palm.
You have to find the right piece of
cottonwood, yucca, or cedar to get smoke.
I’ve burnt down the whole forest looking.
Child Born of Fur
The oldest bear in the forest died today.
The whole town carried him down. He was
brought up by wolves and ravens. It’d been many years
since they’d seen him, which was worse for his mother.
They held him high above their shoulders.
It was Easter so he couldn’t get a full Mass.
They took him to the creek bed, which hadn’t seen rise
since the termites ate the bottom off the house.
We write these stories down on the last rocks
water touches before it enters the polluted seas.
Road at Night with Him
When they cut his head off
they thought he’d stop talking.
Slit chickens still warn the other hens.
He said we teach ourselves
the best way to survive,
even if it ain’t the best way.
Don’t get caught to keep out of prison and off the corner where
the men and women drink 500ml in one gulp.
Smoke less than two cigarettes a day
and always wear a condom.
He knows what’s killing us isn’t thrilling.
My boyish charm left the day
He had me point a gun at a man.
He said that people that want to kill people
buy expensive bullets.
People that want to hunt deer and birds,
buy cheap ones. Knifes and dogs for slower animals.
The hog is smart and understands death.
It’s best to be a fast animal or taste rotten.
Or be pine bark with it resinous oil.
I hear his voice in the woods, telling me to run.
The shrapnel hit everyone in the family that day,
but they didn’t die. Only pieces of them.
The Cheap Stuff is Packaged Turkey or Ham and Discount Bread
Where the ocean runs aground
it makes a sound
The same one
the earth makes creating diamonds
We’re too poor to afford diamonds
or food from the ocean
The cheap stuff is packaged turkey or ham
and discount bread
from the discount bread store
with the yellow sign
where everything is only two days past due
for the people who can’t pay
to be picky
We make a picnic by the sea
where we cut the mold from the bread
and feed it to the seagulls
They aren’t picky either
They want turkey and ham
if we had diamonds
they’d want those too
We enjoy the sun
and our food
and listen to the water run aground
It ain’t too bad this way
but about those diamonds
How to afford one for a finger
to devote myself
over a scratch meal
with seagulls pleading
and the noise of the ocean
Joseph Rakowski received his bachelor’s degree in criminology from Florida State University and is pursuing his M.F.A. at the University of San Francisco. His literary work has been published by Literary Orphans Journal and Litbreak Magazine. His other writings have appeared on The Rumpus and Three Guys One Book. He can be found at https://twitter.com/