Killer Domestic: ‘Boy’

September 22, 2013

Note: This poem is part of a larger project entitled Killer Domestic, an examination of the unusual and unfounded perils of suburbia.


The muffler suggests impending explosion

As the car rolls past the new church on the left

Which oppositely suggests opulence and grandeur.

My folks call it the casino because it sprawls

And lights up like a mansion in the hills

They built it because the old one got too small,

Got too big too fast to hold the lifted wills

Of its patrons. Sundays and Wednesdays as

Holy football and household routines and God

Now that the new space is christened and planted

The newest fig tree to sit under

In a neighborhood that didn’t realize they wanted it.


A boy tries hard to be a man

His mother takes him by the hand

But he escapes, is pushed, falls out and tries to sleep

Alone and can’t. A woman is a god,

A woman is a blanket. Gorgeous protection.

Who else will set the table, set the wound

And set you up to never fail or fail

At least with grace and as a lesson

To scrape from the wafflemaker.

Tomato soup for the sore throat

Tea with liberal honey.

A backboard for your longshot pleas and schemes.

An appliance that never needs new batteries.


A boy grows taller and meets handfuls of girls

Tries his hand at love and even cooking

Then drugs and drinks and yelling at the television.

Maybe he breaks a string at open mic night

Maybe he finds new faith inside a car

Maybe someone tells him to lighten up

A leaky sink is not the apocalypse

To ease up on the gas and strap the carseat

To let a breeze in, become the wind and fly.

He opens his good books and folds back pages

But longs to find the best. He finds the best

In a row of kneeling grownups at the source

And becomes a boy again sitting on floors

Playing with trucks and believing all he hears

Because he is small and the world imposes.

He may shed his boyishness in the face,

In the chest, on the backs  of his hands

But he is little and the world is large

And that’s the way it stays forever. Amen.


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