Things Like These

Eric Berlin

The day my dad came back to get his stuff,
he brought a guy I’d never met, some goon
named Dirk who whispered (when my dad was off
yanking shirts from hangers in his old room)
how hard these things can be, and how some day
I’d know—he winced at me beneath the bangs
of his bowlcut and gnawed his tongue. I braced
myself and went upstairs to give a hand,
and in the corner of the hall, that gun
I’d noticed once beneath my parents’ bed
while lying down to pet our oldest dog.
What am I gonna do with all this junk,
he said looking down, his fists on his waist,
getting a sense of how much he could take.

A slow burner of a sonnet that will leave you with your mouth hanging open and your heart sunk. Difficult and dazzling work.
—Michael Dickman, 2014 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize Judge

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