Poetry by Brad G. Garber

Love by Brad G. Garber

Water Bones

Her hand, the size of tragedy
her heart, the size of a family.

Look, a hawk, I said.
She looked up, past my right knee
my hip, my shoulder, my eyes.

Red-tail flared against the blue
swimming on currents.
Her excitement gripped my finger
one last time.

Me on a friend’s farm
a father clearing weeds
a mother at the store
two young sisters, absorbed
one toddler floating.

I was called home early
to many cars in the driveway
stark light in the kitchen
a pall of silence
a stench of blame.

A father
who never cried
a dark shell
who discovered death
and held it in his arms
held me against him

Your little sister drowned today.

I didn’t cry
perhaps couldn’t

a tomb lowering into silence.

The next morning
I cast my eyes to the sky
looking for the hawk.

Unknown II by Brad G. Garber


Solitaire in the Double Wide

My mother drank herself to death.

This was not surprising to me.

When the surgeon told me about her
    blood vessels waiting to burst
        I could see it in her puffy face.

Before this, I hugged her
        at the vegetable stand
    in the lot, her only desperate job
        selling fresh food she never ate.

Yahtzee and cigarettes in the kitchen
    my mom and I rolled away afternoons
after school, her thin
        acid smoke always
        drifting in my face.

Her voice a rough rasp in smoke
    was soothed with vodka gimlets
        starting before noon and ending
on the floor of her trailer home
    the pain of the stroke in her hand
a tightly crumpled Jack of Hearts.

Fast Livin' by Brad G. Garber

Woodland Burial

In high school
I was called often
            out of class
to blow military honors
    for fallen warriors
    This time
    deep within a forest
of fall aspens
    a hearse and two dark cars
    silent and ample men
    with rifles drew
        along a dusty country
backroad rattling
        in dead and dying
    weeds with bent heads

as he was lowered.

        His name
unknown to me
        no family
uttered like a footnote
    and then
a gun salute into the air
        cracking blanks
    ringing in silence
    like his life.

My plaintive tribute
        a triad of notes
jumbled like his end
after Germany and muddy
    bleak streets having slit
throats of men just like him
    wafting like autumn dust
through baring branches
                as if
as if birds were released
    a flock of souls crying.

Brad G. Garber writes, paints, draws, photographs, hunts for mushrooms and snakes, and runs around naked in the Great Northwest.  He has published poetry in Clementine Poetry Journal, Spank the Carp, Dark Matter Journal, Dirty Chai, Gambling the Aisle, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Ray’s Road Review and other quality publications. 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee.