by Jonathan Dick

Published in Issue No. 177 ~ February, 2012

My older brother –


There’s not much to say save

The saying that says it enough

To be said that he walked

Hopping his madness


Like a one-armed scissor

Cutting the dull from the ground

Planting it in our faces

To be grown like the listeners

We’d been in his footsteps

When the weight was too heavy


And we (they) carried our father

Not god but Luther

To a hole in the mud that was hot

From the digging not so

From the toiling we’d measured

In walks from the church to the stones


At the funeral my brother said

“In six months, you just watch.

I’ll be dead.” But the cancer mistook

His poor math and poor lungs

For another man it’d meant to kill

Three months earlier.


Just a week before he was gone

We went hunting

He with a new gun and truck

I wondered: “But what’s the point.”

And I helped his useless legs

Into the tree stand


I said, brother, brother, brother

Your laugh is a plague

In my head

Get it out, get it out, get it out

‘fore I’m dead.

But not with my mouth


As he neared the tumult

With the new gun laid across

His boney knees

And a shot in the side

Of an eight point buck

He would never be pleasured to eat


He gnarled through the air

Thieving his breaths as he spoke

That god had given him this deer.

Carrying the gun and his kill

I staggered behind as he soaked

In the last of his days.

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Jonathan Dick teaches high school English/Literature in Pinson, Alabama. He was the winner of the prestigious Thomas H. Brown Nonfiction Award in 2010 for his short story "Death Food."