Beaver West


Dad’s got cancer,
a year after mom made
it through. He calls
a family meeting.
At the table, tells us
he’s declining chemo.

“The bright side,” he says
to mom, takes her witch hand,
spins her wedding
diamond, “is after I’m gone
you can keep long-dicking
all my friends.”

Mom starts to cry, but we’re not sure
what about. “Dad,” says Benji. “Shut
the fuck up.”

“If my white cells were higher,
I’d take your ass,” Dad
says back.

Deb has got a shift and goes.
Benji heads upstairs to smoke a bong.
Mom grabs her purse and keys,
calls someone sobbing and takes off
for more. Then it’s just me and him.

“The fuck you looking at?”
but he knows. “Without me around
you’ll be the man.”

“How does that work?”
I say. “I’m the youngest
and not a boy.”

He walks over,
squeezes my shoulders,
stands there for a while.

The clock on the fridge
turns nine. Dad’s pup
Cooter pisses on his
paper in the den.

“Just because you’re
not a boy, doesn’t mean
you can’t be a man,” Dad says.
“Look at me.
I got the job.”

Springtime, I’m stoned at the wake.
Dad’s gray face sunk in makeup
asleep in the box. Mom weeps,
holding hands with the drywall guy.

His six-year-old comes up,
tugs my sleeve, red candy on her cheeks,
tells me we’re sisters now.

I want to slap her little face
but I just stare at her, wondering
if she’s ready to be the man

BEAVER WEST is a writer from Waterbury, CT. Their work has recently appeared in Angel Rust and New World Writing.

More by Beaver West:

Poem in Angel Rust
Poem in New World Writing