The 2River View 23.2 (Winter 2019)

Michael Mark

I Like When the Serial Killer

in the movie is a good family man,
a slightly over-attentive dad who gets flustered
helping his kids with their grade school
homework at the fold-out kitchen table
each night and they make fun of him, call
him Mr. Gooney, because he fears his answers
are all wrong and he doesn’t want to hurt
their futures and his wife wants to crawl
inside him, gushes how he’s more patient
with the kids than she is and nobody
in the whole world knows her man
with the gentlest little bunny heart.
What would she do if something happened
to him? She looks up with her watery
Christ-lighted eyes and begs, please don’t die first,
kill me first, be merciful. Instantly he knows
how and where and with what. But what about
the kids? he whispers. She grabs him close,
wraps her legs around him while the children
do their math and spelling. I don’t care, kill them too.

Making The Bed

She folds my polos, sleeves
winged-back, soft belly out,

eases each on top
of the other, palms soothe

creases, massage colors. Hugging
the warm clothes close, I lead us

upstairs, breathing their soapy breath.
Don’t crush them, she warns.

Jealous? I wink.
One by one, I tuck each

into its cedar bed.
We move to ours.

Four corners of the sheet raised in four fists, we step back.
Without counting—we have this down after 41 years—

flap twice, three times, out – then up.
The whiteness canopies above,

hangs motionless,
like a great sea creature, breaching.

I wait all week for this.

Michael Mark has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Cimarron Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The New York Times, Rattle, River Styx, Spillway, Sugar House Review, The Sun, Verse Daily, and The Poetry Foundation’s American Life in Poetry. (website)

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