Wooden Boy Walks with His Father

Michael Pittard


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.