Benjamin DeVos’s poems have been published, most recently, in Up the Staircase Quarterly and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change. His chapbook, Freaking Out the Neighborhood, was published this past October with Flutter Press.
When father and I went out to dine in celebration of my fifteenth birthday, our waitress brought us the wrong order by mistake. Father’s head blew up like a cheap party balloon. “My soup has no placenta! I ordered soup with placenta!” Our waitress tried to explain, “I’m very sorry, sir. There simply weren’t enough births this week.” Father floated out of his chair. “When I was your age, there was always plenty of placenta to go around. People just aren’t having sex like they used to!” The other customers watched as he bounced across the ceiling. “You’re a virgin,” he told me. “My son’s a virgin.” Our waitress fled behind the bar. My son’s a virgin!” He called after her. I quietly ate my feelings until his head deflated.
Tony asked us to believe in him. He told us we had potential. He said that we would teach each other. “Pounds are going to fly, and fat is out of here mister! We’re going to do it together!” Except that Tony turned out to be a sociopath. He cancelled lunch on the second day, due to lack of hustle. Instead of eating, we were given a lecture on liposuction, “option or obsession?” He raided our cabins with his lieutenants. They located our treasure trove of sweets, treats, and deli meats hidden under the floorboards. After we missed our weight-loss goal, Tony made us climb a thousand foot rock face with our bare hands and feet. He left behind the stragglers for whatever wild animals had an appetite for obese children. We never saw Josh again. By the time summer was over, I hated Tony. I wanted Tony to die. Not actually die. I was only twelve. It was more that I wanted him to suffer as we had suffered. So when Tony did die, of a cocaine overdose on his twenty-mile morning run, I sort of felt responsible.