February 25, 2020


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Seth Brady Tucker

He picks scabs, won’t answer questions; he’s still in a cave
in a jungle, swamp water seeping up into the musky leather
of boots, like a wasp sting, the soft tissue under the scab a pudding,
skinned, oozing thin as red Kool-Aid.
?                        His mother, class valedictorian, then unwed teen,
?                        then prostitute, then dead. His father, wealthy
son, happy, happy, happy, a whole other family, the balance
of rich & poor scales bent to favor blind pedigrees. Look
for the scaly red tail, the cracked horns under the hairline,
those stupid biblical revelatory numbers.
?                        Clean as white palms forever building sandcastles,
?                        the sea-salt spunk of varsity on her skin the closest
his mother comes to payment, genesis, protozoa, the ovum a blink
of pathos & logos, sperm-stupid ethos, fate’s black eye. He was born
across the tracks, his father the great unknown, money the great
unknown, the acid pit of the stomach lining sloughing
?                        until it feels full, the manna of forgiveness & the rectangle
?                        of the empty grave, cheaply done, with spades, elliptical,
& he sees himself launching across the void, a red-speckled
creature of misfortune, to take this man down, finally, into the rank misery
of the dark hole, his hands forever squeezing his apology into the pleasantly
fleshy neck, O forgive me, the sound of his begging like please & please & please.

Seth Brady Tucker is the executive director for the Longleaf Writers Conference. His work has appeared in December, Copper Nickel, Poetry Northwest, Driftwood, and the Indiana Review, and other journals. He teaches at the Colorado School of Mines and the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver.
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