Avatar Review
Issue 13

Poetry: James Tyner

Kao Quilted

I remember this. You at a desk, light
of a computer painting you in blues

and whites. There is pink space between
the next scene, you in a garden, corn

growing around you, stalks looming,
you separating all of it. But this one,

this one I did not know. At a car,
a few black stripes of thread in your

hand, a gun, and there are bullets
coming towards you, small, beaded,

like bees humming trails towards you,
and already there is blood, threaded

into your shirt, your pants, the wounds
not even there yet.

Pops Writing His Will

We’re kneeling in dirt, the moistness
of freshly watered soil, a hum of shucking
as we pull weeds from that softness
where grass ends and his garden starts.
Air is sharp, smell of cat shit somewhere,
but we haven’t found it yet. “The house
will be yours, son. All of it.” His arms raise,
proclaiming this, so serious in the flowers
of his Hawaiian shirt, apron splotched
with dirt, with earth, plastic clogs on his feet.
It’s two bedrooms, small yard, a clothesline.
He’s sixty-three years old and for two years now,
he’s been a homeowner, first time, “Damn right”
he likes to say, smiling, when people ask.
His sleeves drop, hands still in the air,
proclaiming property, what’s his, what will be
mine. All I can see is his disease.
It’s like kisses of shit trailing from wrist
to somewhere under his sleeves. Effects
of Agent Orange, the papers say, exposure
from when he was in Vietnam.
I’ve been dreaming lately, that when
this house is mine, I’ll throw a party,
invite Agent Orange over. He’ll be seated
to my left, and when dinner is served, and people
are cutting through turkey, through light
and dark meat, I’ll plant my fork in his throat.
I want to see that look, the one where eyes
go wide, and the person reaches up,
like they can’t believe they just got stabbed.
And this is where Agent Orange gets pushed
to the ground, splash of meat and mashed
potatoes raining over him as I smash his groin
with kicks, grind heel into his gut, leave the son
of a bitch writhing fetal in his own food and piss.
Yeah, that’s when I’d stab him again,
open up the skin of his throat until that white showed.