MTPR

"Goddammit"

Nov 9, 2015

We learn to swear from our fathers
when they're chopping wood
and miss the log,
axe skimming bark
off the woodblock,
dew off the grass,
goddammit raising its hot white streak
into November.

When my father's scanner
picks up police reports,
he's pulling on Key pants,
grabbing black jacket,
out to the garage to pull the tarp
off the tow truck.
I wake to hear the engine
having it out with the cold.

This means potatoes later
for breakfast, fried eggs, bacon
instead of oatmeal.

In my room I want to say it.
The sounds grow lead-heavy
on my tongue awhile
before I spit
out the window.

I shiver awake and worry
about the fate of the woodblock,
the gas stove, the bread knife,
my mother. It doesn't matter
who god is, or how bad it is to damn it.
If Dad says it,
it's gonna happen.

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Credit Mel McCudden / Lost Horse Press

Maya Jewell Zeller has taught writing and literature to high school and college students, fourth graders, and senior citizens, and has been a writer-in-residence in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. Her poetry has won awards from Sycamore Review, New South, New Ohio Review, Dogwood, Florida Review and Crab Orchard Review, and has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Her first book, Rust fish, was released in April 2011 from Lost Horse Press; subsequent manuscripts have been finalists with the National Poetry Series, University of Wisconsin, and elsewhere, and poems, prose, and reviews appear in journals such as Bellingham Review, West Branch, Pleiades, New Ohio Review, High Desert Journal, Cincinnati Review, and Rattle. Maya serves as Fiction Editor for Crab Creek Review; she also co-directs the Beacon Hill Reading Series in Spokane, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and young son; and where she teaches English at Gonzaga University.

"Goddammit" was published in Zeller's 2011 collection, Rust fish.