Christopher Citro is the author of The Maintenance of the Shimmy-Shammy (Steel Toe Books, 2015). He won the 2015 Poetry Competition at Columbia Journal, and his recent and upcoming publications include poetry in Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, Best New Poets 2014, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal, Sixth Finch, Witness, Columbia Poetry Review, Rattle, Mid-American Review, The Collagist, The Greensboro Review, and Poetry Northwest, and creative nonfiction in Boulevard and Colorado Review. Christopher received his MFA from Indiana University and lives in Syracuse, NY.
When Mom and Dad Have Had It for the Night
I must be some sort of a king of the backyard.
Girls are always wanting to play house and
if there’s a younger brother he can be our kid.
That will keep him out of the way.
Going grocery shopping means navigating
molten lava all around us. Money is when
I slide one hand on top of another then touch
your palm. Food, sticks in a bowl, sand in a cup.
The same sun outside our windows outside
all the other windows. Then night will come.
We’ll lie flat beside one another on the slats.
Your brother fake snoring in the corner. We’re
so proud of him. I’ll pull an imaginary blanket
up to your chin as you watch and smile at me.
I’ll lie back and pull one up to my chin as
I smile at the underside of the roof. It’s raw
boards and spider webs up there in the dark.
Our watch dog has a thousand tiny eyes.
Hello Everyone I’m One of You Now
I take my shoes off wrong. I’m not denying that.
But my mom’s gone so I’m allowed to do what
I want. It’s the flipside of that gaping hole
everything has all the time now. And I’m trying
to eat whole, to do the wheat bread thing. Fruits—
good. Fruit juice—not so good. My thyroid is
some sort of a rubber monster in one of those
50s sci-fi movies that people get so excited about
these days. It’s a small man in a rubber suit.
The face howls but come on it doesn’t howl
the way a real one of us would—the eyes the jaw
the lips and tongue all moving independently,
each really getting into it. I have a cut on my
thumb and no bandage on it. The skin looks
angry. Yesterday approaching the Dollar Store,
I remembered I had this open wound.
Reaching for the door, everybody’s hands and
what they grasped about to get inside me.
We’re Here Don’t Forget Us
The sun is a green grape and it shouldn’t be
hanging up there. They discovered gravitational
waves yesterday and I looked at the news
all night for the thrill of seeing that headline
alongside the usual insanity. This too is what
we call life. And being hungry makes you
level with every other animal on this planet.
What are you going to do about it? You can’t
eat a kite. You can’t drink a canoe. The sound
of two black holes colliding isn’t going to keep
you warm wherever you curl each evening
to await the return of the grape in the window.
I walked into a summer field once and drank
cold white wine from a bottle while black hyphens
passed overhead. I’ve been alive on this planet
but not recently. I don’t know where I’ve got to,
but my head feels like the box a TV comes in
when the TV is gone. Packing peanuts, foam
shells, some postcards in clear plastic we’ll ignore.
Who has time to register every new appliance
and for what? It’s the middle of winter today.
An icy wind is blowing loose snow over the little
piles people shovel up along their driveways.
White lines that give away the shape of
this earth as they pass away above it.