13 December 2009 | Vol. 9, No. 4

Stillwell, Oklahoma

I pull a dog tick fat as a blueberry

from the small of my brother's back,

watch it roll, blood drunk

in the cup of my palm.

We've only been here an hour.

You can see the Indian

in my father's other family.

He's a quarter. They say

his first wife was half. Outside,

dust slaps open-handed

against this clapboard house. I taste it

in the Kool-Aid, more grit than sugar:

irritating, insoluble. There's talk

of the forecast—thunderstorms, tornadoes—

as my mother ushers us to the car.

Soon we'll stop at the state line,

gummy bears and gas and a sign

for $3 half pints of bourbon.

Sober six years, he'll stare,

my father, brood open-mouthed

until my mother pulls him away.

For now he kneels on the porch, alone

in the sepia light, and tucks an envelope

beneath the propane tank without a word.

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About the author:

Johnathon Williams writes and makes web sites from his home in Northwest Arkansas. His poetry has appeared in Best New Poets 2009, Unsplendid, and the Pebble Lake Review. He's a student in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas and a founding editor of Linebreak.org, a weekly magazine of original poetry.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 9, No. 4, where "Stillwell, Oklahoma" ran on December 13, 2009. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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