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Sweet Child

by Frank Rubino

Not competitor, not utility, sweet child of mine.

Love has no object.

The peacock spider, I never heard of it,

this Wonder, this Marvel,

I never heard of it before.

The rhino fish, I never heard of it before.

The ape hound, I never heard of it,

the coon cat, the grass fly.

Not advisor, not saboteur, sweet child of mine.

Love fixes no role, makes no guarantee.

The wolf man, I heard of him,

his uncontrollable change,

like when Mom transformed at lunch,

under her fast-turning metamorphic spell.

Feel guilty, feel angry, feel shameful, feel rage-ful,

collapse on linoleum.

I hand her her pocketbook,

coax her to find the money she'd promised

as she cried on the floor.

It was the hundredth time, and a hundred times more terrible,

but I need that quarter Mom!

The kids are stopping at Carl’s for football cards after school.

Not quizzing everything but in solution with it all.

Not combinator, not divisor: container that pockets

an anomaly. The singular contains the divisible,

like a silver coin exploding pennies.

The glove mouse, I never heard of it.

The dance-foot-arch-face, its yearning for sex.

The climbing bat, the whip-tail deer,

I never heard of it.

Not desire, not want neutralized, sweet child of mine.

Can love exist without desire? Without revulsion?

The bottle-broke goat, the rusty-touch rat,

I never heard of it before.

While Dad napped on the lounge

that folded and nipped my fingers if I'm careless,

I snuck a drink from his beer.

He’d dropped his cigarette butt in the can,

in the swill at the bottom

of his Schaefer. Dad's Pall-Mall ashes:

I didn’t know, I just saw the grown-up beer can, my sleeping father.

I slurped it in, the butt a shocking mass like when you’d swallow an ice cube,

gray ash paste spreading cancer in my throat.

I wanted to wake him and tell him I’m sorry,

I’m gonna die from cancer poison,

because I broke the rule and was a sneak,

that afternoon beside my sleeping father in terror of death

Frank Rubino's poetry has been published in Vending Machine, Carbon Culture, Inscape, DMQ Review, The Cape Rock, Caliban Online, Caveat Lector, The World, Little Light, and New Directions. He has performed his poetry at St. Mark’s Poetry Project, The Ear Inn, The Cornelia Street Cafe, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and numerous other locations in and around New York. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and four children.


November 2018

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