His Mother Locks Him in at Night by Matt Dennison

By Matt Dennison

Don spends his days walking up and down
the street, now, for the exercise,
with a straight black cane to support
his white Bermuda legs.
He waves.
I raise my hand
from across the street.
Between the passing cars he knife-motions
the black threads stitched into his throat:
lung removed.
Points to hip, leg, and side:
twenty-foot fall at the baseball game.
Waves his cane all over:
blood disease,
slight touch of schizophrenia.
Can’t sleep, cannot stay awake.
He does not point out the thick purple
splotches quickly covering
his arms and legs,
all that I really notice.

Then he brightens, remembering the night
he ripped down the screen and broke
through the glass above my sleeping
head just to say hello.

And the phone calls to the police
and the guns discovered on his kitchen table
and his sick mother stinking up
the back room with cancer and prayers
for all—marvelous!

He slashes his cane at the circling birds,
fights them to the sidewalk and sits,
laughing in his best child.



Matt Dennison is the author of Kind Surgery, from Urtica Press (France), and Sunflower, upcoming from Main Street Rag. His work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also made short films with Michael Dickes, Swoon, Marie Craven, and Jutta Pryor.