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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press


By: Jonathan Mundell

my brother and Dave carry a canoe

to the lake—

the underside in the sun and light

explodes across the silver

like the eye looking

from a lighthouse

—I ran past

the banana trees in our backyard

and Bateman’s fence

and his barking Rottweiler watching

the canoe slips into the water and waves

ripple away (quicker,

quicker!) but when I reached

the big apple tree in Amanda’s backyard

the canoe sat like a bellybutton

in the middle of the lake.

That night

we hid in the baby palms

on the side of Vick’s house

footsteps in the grass behind us

come faster and faster—“this

next to a cut between fences,

splintered and spider-webbed

is Manhunt,” he says

—my brother

flicked a lighter and the flame sketched

his cheeks and nose,

bends and shifts inside his eyes—


in his nostrils and trademark dimple.

He lit a firecracker

and dropped it and it hissed

like a beetle in the dirt.

When it exploded

voices swarmed to the spot

the world shakes around us

—his arm

reaching back to mine

it no longer was, just a black-ash crater

and broken twigs.

We reached the end

of the two fences enclosed

by the monolithic subdivision sign.

“This is where we keep the canoe,” he said.

It hung between two Oaks

like a hammock

fifteen feet above our heads.

We climbed the branches

and crawled to the bow

and the hull bellowed

when we stepped in. My brother

I hear

coming from the sandwich of fences

leaves crumbling beneath soles

covered my mouth.

“Quiet.” he said. “Get down.”

We slid under the thwarts and yoke

and lay in the water

growing footfalls echo inside

and I smelled fish-blood

and dirt. “They aren’t far off,” he whispered

and he lit a pack of firecrackers.

I watched sparks follow the fuse

toward an anemone of Black Cats

and he tossed them overboard.

“They’re here,” I said, “all around us.”

My brother lies next to me (two peas

in a—), “Shhh,” he said.

He held my hand and squeezed

—footsteps scatter like cockroaches

—each one

fades away into the colorless

spectrum of memory replaced

by a firecracker

ricocheting the underbelly

of the canoe [the fuse

reaches the gunpowder

explodes through them

one by one]

(I hear them like heartbeats now)

then it became silent, save for our breathing,

or the slow sashay of wind gently creaking

through the canoe, where it swayed

in the heavy branches

the metal and water

becomes a part of us both

lying arm to arm and leg to leg—

both a part of this place and time too


midair, our youth as obvious

as the scent of sap on our fingertips.

“You smell the bass?” my brother asked.

“It died right here.” He lifted his arm

and the white sleeve of his shirt was pink

with the bloody water and he laughed.

His hands reached out in front of us

into the open sky

like he was holding a big fish.


Jonathan Mundell’s work has appeared in The Closed Eye Open. He currently lives and teaches in South Florida.


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