He studies this joined pair of hands,
bloody cuticles & bitten nails, rough,
so rough & beaten & raw, swinging
in front of him. His father sighs at their
audacity, pinches his son’s ear to his
bearded mouth, spits out the goddamn
nerve, loudly tells his son that God requires
us all to show some fucking decency,
calls them obscene, which he thinks means
classic, like old movies & slanted rain
falling on felt hats, smoke pouring
out between lips, we’ll find the monster
who killed him, says the lead actor,
shoulder to shoulder in the streetlight
with his partner. His father grabs him,
shoves this thought through his lantern
gears: I made you but I will unmake you
if you ever love a man. He swallows,
water rushing down his spindles, & nods
in agreement. Who could ever love a man?
His hands are dirty fragile things, ready
to fall apart at the slightest gentle touch.
Michael Pittard is an English lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has an MFA in poetry from UNCG and is a former poetry editor of The Greensboro Review. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Bookends Review, Red Flag Poetry and Poetry South. His criticism has been published in the Chicago Review of Books, Tupelo Quarterly, and storySouth.