P.T. Stone (@ptstoneofficial) is a senior English major at Clemson University. His work has appeared in The Moth, The Chronicle, andPoetry Quarterly. He runs two blogs, The Near and Far (thenearandfar.wordpress.com) and A Book of One's Own (bookofonesown.wordpress.com). He is also a blogger and reader for Spry Literary Magazine.
Fathers and sons
I was thirteen, never seen one before.
Her hair was matted but she was pretty,
had makeup on. Her ankles were propped up
on coke cans and her legs were spread
like she was about to have a baby or somethin.
Policeman told my daddy I might be scarred
from seein a crime scene but if anything it would
make me more of a man. Daddy laughed at that,
he told his huntin buddies by the creek about it
when we went out lookin for ducks.
My guidance counselor asked me about it
for two weeks—my best friend Red said
it fucked me up—“Just ain’t no way it don’t,
somethin like that.” Now, the dark brown color
of the stones in the sidewalk outside the hospital
reminds me, I was in love with Miss Kieffer.
Her titties were round and her hair was matted
but she was pretty, always had makeup on.
At my graduation, my daddy wouldn’t hug me
in front of granddaddy. He just shook my hand
real hard and beat me on the back. The slidin
doors at the hospital reminds me, when we did
the electric slide at the graduation party my daddy
said “Stop bein so goddamn prissy, boy” and I
sat down for the rest of the night next to my momma,
thankin everybody for comin out.
My wife’s sister comes outside to get me, says
“It’s done, come in” I do and doctor says “It’s a boy;
you’re the father of a baby boy.” I looked down
at his little naked head and I said “Hey son, I’m your
daddy.” He cried so I gave him back to his momma.
Save me, momma
I was ten. Daddy was sittin
in his recliner, packin more
chew’n tobacco into is mouth.
He asked me if I wanted to try it,
he said it’s what men do. And I
knew momma didn’t want me to
but I did it anyway. Tasted like shit.
Next day, it was the weekend. And
daddy taught me how to shoot a gun. I
knew momma didn’t want me to
but I did it anyway. Bruised my
shoulder from the kickback.
He asked me if I had a girlfriend yet,
told me I better not be a little faggot. I
knew momma didn’t want me to have
one, not till I was sixteen but I got one
anyway. His name was Logan, we kissed
on the fourwheeler. When daddy caught us,
he wore my tail out for bein a little faggot.
the dirt sestina
when my eyes winked open
i was outside and the sun
beat down like my daddy
and i felt his fist but i couldn’t
run this time on account’a my legs
wouldn’t move. there was dirt
in my hair and there was dirt
in my shoes. it crunched. and i saw an open
diner far away. my hand hurt. then my legs
finally wobbled me up while the sun
still made the cicadas scream. i couldn’t
keep my eyes open it was s’bright. daddy
was long gone now. you never think yer daddy’s
gone leave you some place, beat up an’ in the dirt,
left to dry like dust. but then he does. see, i couldn’t
stand to see him beat up on momma. right in the open.
for everybody t’see. “it ain’t right. it just is. buck up, son.”
he said. and that last time i thought if i got ‘im by the legs
then he’d be down and i could—but he wasn’t. nope. his legs
didn’t waver. his eyes were like guns. wasn’t ev’n scared. so my daddy
on account’a teachin me a lesson broke my hand. he beat me till the sun
went down and hoped i’d cry one more tear so maybe he could dirty
up my face too. then, about a hour when i knew he’d passed out, i opened
my window and i just started runnin’. runnin’ and runnin’ away til i couldn’t
see the light on the front porch n’more. now, i couldn’t
even tell ya whether i saw him come after me. my legs
sure as hell could—he did. an’ he let it go on me like a op’n
pair a’scissors (on account’a his belt’s got studs). y’see my daddy,
he just loves too hard. i saw ‘im cry one time. said it was dirt
in ‘is eye, but i knew. he loves us. he loves us like the sun
loves skin. a’course, problem is the sun
is real complicated. y’know, it couldn’t
just outright burn u like dirt
just outright makes ur legs
need washin’, no. daddy
just—well, i deserved it. “a pen
don’t write ‘less you make it.” the sun was burnin’ the scars on my leg but
i couldn’t help but smile when i looked up an’ saw daddy comin’ up the road,
dirt flarin’ up behind the truck. he open’d the door an’ he spit tobacco on me.