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after Bob Hicok

It shot out of Mr. Foster’s mouth, I flinched while he took aim

at fucking kamikaze crows

who dove from the sky, landed in rows of his prized tomatoes, bore

into red and yellow flesh. It rode

the air, clipped me, an arrow dipped in blood from beaks, sharp

and fast as gold beads

from his cocked rifle. Mixed with Get out, slurred

by Budweiser chugs from cans

our neighbor Mr. F crumpled with his hands, flattened

with his boot soles, it bubbled

in beer foam, softened by the paper bag of heirlooms

Mr. F brought to our front

door. The best ones . . . I picked them for you he told

my mother. His gift appeasing

the boundary between continents, our backyards, like the free advice

he offered my father as I stood

behind fence slats, listening: Place old tires deep in soil

for ripe tomatoes. Scatter seeds

for crows. It was his gaze shifting sudden to a bird

overhead, his liquored breath

and insistence at how sneaky we were, and Why did you marry one?

he asked my father, You better watch

out. His raided garden of fallen globes. A failed crop. My mother Renko

and father Stuart growing me—their heirloom—

too many shades of us for him, the enemy in me, her almond eyes

and olive skin, crows lifting

off, Mr. F’s drunken misses bringing him to his knees, his downed

plane a half-century

ago, his claps and my gasps when they landed

backwards, black bellies

up. It cut through my father’s nervous smile, Hey buddy,

just don’t say it . . .

Mr. F’s reply I won’t say it around your wife . . . I backed

away from his bruised

harvest, furrowed trenches speckled with gunpowder, birds

flapping wings

in dirt, Mr. F’s barrel tarnished like his burning

plane, sinking into the ocean

where he was stranded, shrapnel from his war embedded

in parts of me.

from SeizeFind more by Brian Komei Dempster at the library

Copyright © 2020 Brian Komei Dempster
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Brian Komei Dempster Poems

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