Outside, the Howling

Photo: © Nadia Belalia. All Rights Reserved.

Knuckles scraped rough,
cuticles chewed white as sea foam,
callouses hard as adobe, I want to
fight something tonight, something intact.
Instead, I’m listening to
the neighborhood dogs howl
and reading poetry by dead men, my father’s
picture resting in its old spot. I drink Pabst
when there’s perfectly good rye
in the kitchen cabinet, top shelf, above
the spices. The moon, as always, is here;
bright and covered by cloud shadow, it’s as
useless as it’s ever been. So am I.
It seems all I’ve been good
for lately is drinking and lingering
in empty hallways, looking for a reminder,
a flickering bulb to tell me which
direction I entered. Wherever
it was, I came in alone. I always do;
it’s the way I protect against
anxieties, the kind that numb an arm for a year,
hibernating limbs afraid
to wake up again, a false death hiding
around a picture frame, this stained carpet under
my toes, a coffin lining. But my beer is empty,
and the moon is bright,
and I’m tired of this room.
The dogs test their chains
with howls. My father smiles
behind his glass tomb. I think I’ll walk out
the door tonight, barefooted,
and join them.

Eric Loya is an adjunct instructor from Long Beach, CA, where he earned a B.A. in English Literature and then received an M.F.A. from the University of California, Riverside. His work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Pearl Magazine, Verdad Magazine, 34th Parallel, and other magazines. He has been a quarter-finalist for the NOLO Literary Award, a semifinalist for The Trio House Prize, The Philip Levine Prize, and Crab Orchard First Book Prize.

Appears In

Issue 14

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