Benjamin Sutton

First week of June and insurance

to purchase, itemizing last year

in the bedroom closet

with the old shoes where the big toe

ate through the front, boxes to stack upon boxes,

the television sitting above the rest,

not willing to sacrifice primetime entertainment.

The dogs outside are pacing,

trying to find death, as a neighbor speed-walks

to each stop-sign wearing the attitude of page seventeen

of Sears’ spring catalog, beauty in uncertainty

with a flower pattern. She slaps the signs

as if to check the stability before the wind

gets the chance, as the pain of metal on metal howls.

On the front porch, we sit cross-legged

with the weather broadcast over the city intercom

and the stop-sign-screams,

swallowing the happy-until-you’re-not-pills,

the same pills that they gave the boys in grade-school

when they lapped around the schoolyard

without breathing.

The neighbor sits and sweats with her

orange rust hands on her forehead, says she

is allergic to the storm,

says it makes her brain arthritic until it cracks

when she thinks, so she packs and leaves.

Says her first husband was uprooted

with the water last year, that his coffin

took the long way home right down the street.

We inhale the cold front, the warm front is

out in the backyard, waiting for something-more,

waiting for the meteorologists

to allow it, to predict the chaos—

the storms sharing personalities,

a little anger with a little integrity,

Alex and Bonnie and Colin and Danielle bumping

their chests against the siding,

spitting a temper tantrum on the windows.

And when the rain hits, I sleep with my mouth

open, drool, my body helping the streets flood

on my pillowcase, sucking in the humidity

I watch as the neighbor pulls out

through the storm, the puddles gorging themselves

on raindrops, growing with greed

as if to show the hurricane, to prove

that they have power too.

Benjamin Sutton received his BA from Ohio University, where he studied under Mark Halliday. He is currently an MFA candidate at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

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