by Matt Stancel


In my youth I always
found at my grandfather’s house

a dozen circular stains
and a pile of unopened envelopes
on the end table beside

a brown recliner
with worn armrests and seat

that matched the sofa
which he always called the settee
even when folded out

with its plastic covered
mattress and terrible support bar

so I had a place to sleep
when I came to visit for the week
on my summer break,

a kitchen table covered
in green vinyl with white floral pattern

that supported more
stacks of still sealed correspondence
magazines and yellowing papers

a cornflake box and sugar bowl
pill bottles and a pistol he’d owned since 1942

which was always loaded
like the shotgun leaning against the corner
of the wood panel wall

under a clown my brother created
with glue and construction paper in school.

I was never frightened by the guns
but I trembled because the strongest
man I knew believed they were necessary.

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