by Patrick T. Reardon


In summer, the father grilled hot dogs
with his white t-shirt off, skin burning.

In fall, he tolled novenas.

After snow melt,
the whitened bones of a gnawed bird,
chaos of feathers.

Can you taste the beckoning?

In winter, the father did duties,
and in spring and year-round,
a man for every season
— for the moment in the door,
bending the mother back
for a movie kiss in a clinch
bending in on itself,
a branch twisting into soil.

Make children.
Make space.
Make believe.

The ripple on the face of the water,
song of songs.

The scratch, the itch,
amid the cyclone.

The father moved through the children
like a spacecraft through the vacuum.

In the end, he wanted out.


Declaw the lion King
to a plaster saint.
Declaw Lincoln
to a penny.
Declaw Francis
to a birdbath.

Declaw the man
with nails in his wrists.
Pull claws from humbly proffered hands.
Pull teeth.
Pull the skin away to fashion a lampshade.

Pull this arm out and hammer, and this arm.
Pull the wood upright.

Wear the wood
as a tiny, silver, two-lined elegance
on a thin, silver chain,
suspended over
and pointing to
the starlet bosom’s cleft.

Unmake the flesh of the Word.

The fate of Billy the Kid

Limerick sour hen, consort of
thick-palm, bellied Patrick, cock
of blind alley, Catherine grudged
open to twitch the moment in soiled
New York night. In two hundred seventy
five solars, her derogate body birthed
child of spleen from vipered womb,
verted goddess of machinations,
raw hollowness, treachery and
all ruinous disorders.

serpent’s tooth,
shade of hanging tree.

Blame the sun, the moon, and the stars.

The firmament twinkled and
Mickey-Moused the Kid’s slack face
on a thousand thousand t-shirts.

NOTE:  Inspired by Walter Benjamin’s uncompleted Arcades Project, this poem quotes words and phrases from Shakespeare’s King Lear, rearranged into a new setting and with new companion words.

The lonesome death of Whiskey Daisy

An hour before,
at the stone fence, on the glorious Fourth,
an errant shot from the Golden Slipper,
struck Yellow Dog’s Jersey cow,
named Whiskey Daisy,
right between the eyes, and
no corpse-reviver could raise her,
nor Old Chum’s reviver,
nor a maiden’s kiss,
nor a widow’s kiss.
Forget Lone Tree’s life-prolonger.
The sorrowed creature lay
lifeless as a yard of flannel.

as four Sioux at stone fence
wonder at the bovine remains,
here comes unsteady,
Johnny Manhattan,
bell-ringer at the church
and part-time fast-gun,
with aw-shucks smile
and maiden’s blush,
saying, “Aw, Shucks.
I guess one of my shots
missed the Golden Fizz Bandit,
and I’m…,”
— but he never does finish
because Yellow Dog slams him
with a Rocky Mountain punch
to the solar plexus.

He vomits Balaklava Nectar.

About the Author:

Patrick T. Reardon is the author of eight books, including Requiem for David, a poetry collection from Silver Birch Press, and Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence. Reardon, a former reporter with the Chicago Tribune, has had poetry published by Silver Birch Press, Cold Noon, Eclectica, Ground Fresh Thursday, Literary Orphans, Rhino, Spank the Carp, Time for Singing, Tipton Poetry Journal, Under a Warm Green Linden and The Write City.