Blue Collar Fathers
Jason Brown

From a chapbook, Blue Collar Fathers, forthcoming in May
from Rocksaw Press. Both poems first appeared in Post Road.
Shown with Jason is new daughter Nobella.

IV. My Older Brother, June Bug

roots with the hogs in the fieldís shallow burrows
and picks through the thick lawns and meadows
with the shrews and crows for those fat white grubs
with the brown heads that feed on the roots of weeds,
and he collects the bait until he finds a fishing pole
to borrow, though he rarely catches anything but a buzz.

Illinois June bugs usually land in July, but my brother
shows up whenever he needs a night or three of sleep,
basement hibernation, he always says, his head hunting
for the musty yellow cushions of the couch to burrow
his face from the rest of the world. He curls up, arms
around knees, underneath his leather coat, a brown shell

that never hardened, even when the slick black belt
blurred like a corner-of-the-eye shadow, the silver buckle
flickering the fluorescent light above our fatherís head,
my brother purposely acting up, attracting the brunt
of the licks for our blue jeans with mud-stained knees,
live grubs in plastic cups, one dead crappie on a string.


XI. Name I Will Never Forget

I called him D because I could never remember his name, only that it started with D.

You remember everything: D of the green DEKALB corn seed hat; D of the six-sodas-a-day habit; D of the small dip tucked between cheek and gum, spitting black on the pavement; D of the couldnít-sit-still-during-downtime, sweeping dirt that wasnít there; D who took the pressman job just to buy a house with more rooms than children, children who eventually left to live with the ex-wife.

All I have are flashes, small scenes of the Christmas party: An open bar. One pool table. Tequila, SoCo, and vodka celebrated our victories. Too drunk to play, we bellied the bar. More talk. More shots. We laughed when Dís face hit the counter. Cameras flashed.

Remember you said D puked in the parking lot, crawled into the van, and you, the designated driver, slammed the door shut. You drove up and down every country road that night listening to Dís incoherent directions, couldnít find Dís large, empty home. You actually pulled down the driveway once but didnít know it.

You walked D three laps around the van, hoping for one clear thought, a direction other than where it ended. D said it was fun to sit in the ditch and did, arms braced out to the sides, head back, looking at the sky as if asking for something.

You did everything you could before and after headlights flickered through the trees, across the van, into Dís eyes. ďPolice!Ē D said, and took off sprinting into the woods, as if stone sober, an explosion of energy.

You searched the tree line with a flashlight, screaming ďDerrick! Derrick! Derrick!Ē so many times the word didnít weigh the same. I was in my living room then, half asleep in the recliner, trying to remember his name, when it hit me, as if your voice had found its way out of the trees, the soft night breeze pushing it through my window.

On the table next to me a police scanner beeped. The dispatcher told the officer that a train had hit something on the tracks, better get out there and take a look.

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