Giving You the Chance to Live:
Divorced Father Explains
We didn’t like each other much,
but we could fuck twice a night.
Your mother will tell you she loved
me, but she spit on my socks
and cut tiny slices in the lining
of my new suitcase. When she got shrill,
I thought, this child will owe us.
We are giving her a world, humid
and stuffed with life: jackrabbits,
prairie dogs, jumping spiders, manatee,
biting ants, hissing roaches, pumpernickel.
Nothing is as easy enough not to love
as your mother, your parents, the ache
of an irregular heart. So I left you
to grow into the world I created.
Laura Lee Washburn
I-70 to St. Louis
Dirty cocksucker, Dad groaned alongside the backing tenor vocals of his car horn. My brother and I knew dirty cocksucker was bad. That exact combination of words, dirty, cock, sucker, drew the attention of the universe to our car like beaming spotlights on escaped convicts. We were a neon blip on the radar of the All-Knowing. Dalton and I silently snickered, waiting for more. Mom rested her head against her window’s cool glass, a blonde mannequin, hair speckled with the gray my brother and I never dared mention. Dad waved his middle finger around with each pump of the brakes.
Car after cocksucker car we passed. Drivers offered a slew of obscene gestures that Dad gladly returned. Toyotas painted in cocksucker greens and blacks cut Dad off; cocksucker semis inched along in the fast lane. Mom glared back at us, shaking her head, and finally laughed. And then, as all our laughter permeated the car, Dad chuckled too. We were now a vague, hazy cocksucker blip disappearing over the cocksucker horizon of the dirty cocksucker highway.
Cody Shrum is a second-year MFA candidate studying fiction at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cody’s poetry has appeared in such journals as Rust + Moth, Kansas Time + Place, and velvet-tail, as well as the anthology, Kansas Time + Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry. He lives in Kansas City, Kansas with his wife, Kylee, and their two dogs, Zeus and Zoey.