Things I Wish I Told My Mother
Thank you for rescuing me from Clint's trailer
on the Wilhelm family junkyard
out near the Uncompahgre River.
I didn't have fun at his birthday party.
I shouldn't have slept over there.
You were right not to like him.
He traps junkyard crows.
Keeps them in a silver cage
atop an old cattle ramp.
I think their song
sounds so painful,
like death is talking for them.
I'm only eight and I think
I'm already afraid of the world
and embarrassed to say so.
Clint showed me
how to hold crows
like bouquets of flowers
and pry open their beaks
with scissor blades-their tongues
It will be hard to forget
how bird blood is black.
Did you know you're supposed to
cut their tongues out? Clint says
it's the only way to teach them
how to talk.
The triangles of her broken body
under a white sheet
looked just like my fighter kite
after its spine snapped.
A red gash of nylon,
a crumbled heap in the road.
I don't remember her windshield shattering
as she flew through glass,
my father leaving my side
to run toward the wreckage.
But what if memory is more like sonar,
a bat clicking through darkness
over an empty ballfield
mistaking every blade of grass
for a fallen moth? What if
truth only takes the forms we need?
I know ambulance lights reflected in motor oil
look like tail ribbons.
I know tearstains against my father's white t-shirt,
the scrape of his hands against my cheek
as he knelt down and whispered
It's only a kite.
Desert locusts flood
the old irrigation ditch.
I have mother's mason jars
set as snares,
father's fishing tweezers
to curl around their abdomens.
When pinned just right,
the crease between thorax
and head reveals a path
to blood, hearts mid-beat.
When I see
how full of life they are,
I want pins pushed
-from Pupa, winner of the 2017 Rick Campbell Chapbook Prize with Anhinga Press, selected by Tyree Daye, POW Guest Editor Fall 2018
PROMPT: In Samuel Piccone's "Things I Wish I Told My Mother," his speaker recalls a childhood friend, Clint, who captures crows and pries open their beaks with scissor blades as "the only way to teach them / how to talk" is to cut out their tongues. It is a disturbing poem about a unique childhood memory and the speaker's realization that he should have taken his mother's worries about Clint more seriously. Whether harrowing or heartwarming, we all have things we wish we could tell our parents. Write your own poem based on this premise: what do you wish your parents knew about you? About what they provided or failed to provide when you were young and at your most vulnerable? -by Associate Editor Amie Whittemore
BIO: Samuel Piccone is the author of the chapbook Pupa, which was awarded Editors’ Choice in the 2017 Rick Campbell Chapbook Prize with Anhinga Press. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including, The Southeast Review, Passages North, American Literary Review, and Midwestern Gothic. He received an MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University and serves on the poetry staff at Raleigh Review. Currently, he resides and teaches in Nevada.