Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Thirty-five
Summer 2014
 
IMITATING MANHOOD
Shay Lessman

I needed a new furnace installed
and called a man my mom
recommended because of a gal
she knew from work it was her
husband and they needed cash
because she was pregnant
and due to give birth
in a couple weeks I stood with him
as he took my measurements
to figure how much
sheet metal he needed to connect
the old ventilation system
to the new furnace’s blower
he came for several days
and we talked in the basement
him rugged in his work boots
torn jeans and Cabella’s T-shirt
me in clingy sweaters that made
me look like I had breasts hair
grown out a little too long so
that I had something
between a pixie cut and a mullet
he had a buzz cut close to the scalp
we talked every day
and I listened as he spoke
of hunting with his buddies
and how they got rowdy
and were thrown off a farmer’s land
because of that he cursed
as the old and new wrestled
to become a single vent
he talked of elk hunting
in Colorado with his dad
and of plans to spend Saturday
drinking beer with friends
and watching the Bears game
I pretended to know about
hunting and sports I do own
a gun and have played sports
but neither interest me
the gun is for my chickens
they need protection from foxes
and skunks I always fire to scare
them off by aiming at a tree
or into the darkness too afraid
to kill anything to feel guilty
like I had disappointed the wild
animals just obeying the law
of primal instincts foxes kill
for pleasure and leave whole chickens
dead in their wake skunks are picky
creatures that kill to feed
on their faces and leave the rest intact
this is as close as I’ve come to it
Manhood I’d much rather read novels
and sing show tunes from Oklahoma!
I raise the chickens because I have
no green thumb and can’t garden
though I dream of being
on hands and bent knees
pulling at weeds and protecting
herbs and flowers
I am raising up
with my two hands some water
and daily sunshine
It is a myth that breathing
on plants can feed them
the Carbon Dioxide they need
for photosynthesis but I do it
because I love the thought
of nursing tiger lilies to blooming age
I’ve done this since I was young
back when I played with a boy
who played Barbies with my sister
I would lock myself in my room and throw fits
while my sister was marrying Ken
and moving him into the Barbie
dream house I asked him once
to stop playing with her so much
but he never did that was the first
time I felt rejected
I’m married now and concerned
over the bills when we can afford
Satellite TV again
We live on five acres
almost all of it waving
waist-high prairie grass
and a couple tall trees
perfect for a hilltop
rope or tire swing
I’m working on making
the 1880s farmhouse
my dream home
I want to pair the almond
siding with blue window
trimming and matching wood
shutters I want to add a window
to the office to let more sun in
so that I can read in
my art deco chair
or type up poems
in a cheery space it helps
me feel happier while I write
about sorrow and anger
my inadequacy screaming
like a man unafraid
out into the silent universe
of word processors
I can choose to be vulnerable
and share my work
with readers hungry for chicken
to prey on most of the time
I obey the call of nature
and other times I fire
my little handgun at a tree
to protect my flock

About Shay Lessman

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