by Jeffrey MacLachlan
The Final Show & Tell
The teacher said that small pets
were allowed, so I brought
my dad’s tombstone. It was modest
in size, and surprisingly light. I taught
it some tricks after checking out
a library tape. If I double-
tapped the top, it made a revving
engine sound. Dad scattered his brains
like jacks in a motorcycle crash
down Seminary. My mom couldn’t
make it. I wanted to show her the turntable
trick (the cheap stone really sounds vinyl
and I could even get his name to scratch
Timo-jigga-thy, Cr-reeeear-umb! Left us
alone in 91!) but she spends most of her days off
with her face steaming in the dishwasher
because “that’s where filthy tears
go, hon.” The next week white Mikey
brought his mother’s urn and trained
it to levitate by impersonating Saint
Peter and jangling keys. Someone said
an abyss boiling with volcano soup
opened in the caf and a lunch lady
was yanked down by her hairnet. Show & Tell
is canceled until they find a replacement.
Stop Motion Summer Camp
We look forward to stretching
our limbs for once. The school
year restricts movement
to only the blackboard
and class pet. Even the kickball
diamond waves back,
outfield grass rocking left
to right like metronomes.
My crush from last June
returns in a paisley
dress and gladiator
sandals. She still sways
in that awkward way
when girls are practicing
grace. I dream that first
night of us alone
by Blue Paint Lake—
my left arm curving
around her shoulders
slowly enough to seem natural.
My family had given up and so our winter in New York was ending. Planes climbed and descended in silence like they were bored on an escalator. I couldn't keep my eyes off their indifference to rising into the heavens, neat rows of windows giving the cockpit a blank stare. My Swiss burger and onion strings appeared to be awash in maroon paint. My brother was dying. I never knew a six pound infant could have so many crummy organs. After two months of hospital food, I stopped controlling my thoughts. Santa brought my sister a baby Miss Piggy and I fished the instructions out of the trash. I became fixated on the manufacturer's warranty. There were different languages explaining the same replacement procedures and I worked at decoding Sanskrit and Kanji like a toy Rosetta Stone. That was the first time I knew I would die someday.
Hip Hop Honey
I've never breathed a word until now. Spotlights fire into my kinetic thighs while an industrial fan blows my hair into a diamond tiara. The man in the spotlight rhymes about entombing enemies, but he's never spoken to me. I have no history in his verses. Lord knows I’ve cooed and slithered off his hip, but he always rips away after a hungry stare. He has money to spare, but throws it around as if he owes the tropical breeze. In my version, I loosen corsets with the Brontes sipping glasses of lean. I'm covered in jewelry like an Indian wedding. But the breakbeat is ending, the last of me poured into a Porsche as he buzzes to a younger crush, her face blushed up into a peony bloom.
Things My Father Taught Me About Death
Make it the last thing you do, he joked, as we watched his mother return to the earth. I learned that New York soil hides creamy spirals of snow, like a giant pinwheel cookie. When I inspected her living room, there was nothing left besides our relatives. We come from a family of crows, he said. To this day, I flap my arms when he calls.
Our second dog never quite adjusted to civilian life, and so my father buried her near the quarry. She got into scrapes with woodland bullies now and then. My father marked her grave with three rusty mowers he failed to resurrect. The surrounding grass doesn't grow as crassly anymore.
One day an annihilated rabbit appeared by our vegetables. My father and I spent a good hour scouting a restful spot, and water pistols in hand, gave the carcass a twenty-one squirt salute. The next day the rabbit appeared by the vegetables again, dead as ever. We checked the burial plot and it was indeed the same rabbit, so we dug another hole. This repeated for a week until we buried him with garden lettuce. At this point, heaven’s food must be as fresh as a hospital’s.
My father owns every book about Ploesti, the bombing raid his father commanded before having children. He originally guarded Nazis, but was reassigned after knocking some out with a bottle. Truthfully, he was a natural drunk and nearly got himself killed if not for a little luck. To this day, my father hasn't allowed even one drop to decompose his tongue.
Jeffrey H. MacLachlan also has recent or forthcoming work in New Ohio Review, Eleven Eleven, Santa Clara Review, among others. He teaches literature at Georgia College & State University.