My Brother

CL Bledsoe

A giant bed.

A giant man, lying.

A plate on his chest.

Life to be devoured.

Record player bumping across the house.

60s jam bands. Live albums.

8-tracks stacked on a bookshelf.

Cheap westerns. Destroyer novels.

Richard Pryor. Redd Foxx.

The smell of stale rot.

No woman has ever been in there.

A bathroom we never use.

Band posters on the wall, The Guess Who.

Mountain on the stereo.

My brother, pontificating about each band.

Listen to this solo.

He wanted to be a drummer,

but never learned to play.

A ping-pong table, replaced by a spare bed.

We used to chase each other with his dirty socks.

He managed the fish shop in the winters,

worked long hours driving a combine,

cutting levees in the rice fields

with me and my father.

The sun, a constant weight.

Man made from mud returning to mud.

Me, complaining.

Me, lecturing the air.

Me, so young and unloved.

Him, listening.

Raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of more than thirty books, including the poetry collections Riceland, The Bottle Episode, and his newest, Having a Baby to Save a Marriage, as well as his latest novels If You Love Me, You’ll Kill Eric Pelkey and The Devil and Ricky Dan. Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.