about the author

Amorak Huey is author of Ha Ha Ha Thump (Sundress, 2015) and Seducing the Asparagus Queen (Cloudbank, 2018), plus the forthcoming Boom Box (Sundress, 2019). He is co-author with W. Todd Kaneko of Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury, 2018) and teaches at Grand Valley State University.

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Three Poems 

Amorak Huey

Fairy Tale

We built a barn. Populated it.
Three goats. Thirty chickens.
A pig. Waited for them to speak,
naturally. We hoped to be told
what to do next. Or possibly
to be granted a wish. We waited
a long time. No one spoke.
We pretended to leave,
listened at the door. Nothing.
We left for the night,
tiptoed back at sunrise.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
Thus, our lives proceeded.
My parents divorced. My
father moved off the farm.
One by one, the animals
died. Nothing surprising
or cruel, just the way life
goes in the end. What lives
dies. It’s not profound,
it simply is. My mother
moved. My brother and I
were long gone, of course.
The barn stood quiet for years.
When it came down, it did so
gradually. I cannot recall what
we would have wished for.
It does not matter. The possibility
of the wish always mattered
more than the substance.
It lasted a while. It was
a place to leave. This,
in the end, is all we could ask.

The World as We Have Invented It

is a house without blinds or curtains,
as though someone has just moved in,
dishes in boxes & clothes in folded piles
in the corners of rooms. Sunlight
everywhere. The insistence, outside,
of a large truck in reverse. So many
dogs barking. The slap & drag
of passing joggers on the sidewalk.
I cannot shake the sense
that we do not belong here, surely
we are house-sitting for someone
with a claim on such grandeur.
My dreams are like this, sometimes,
a kind of calm, a kind of doubt—
to reach this place, we’ve traveled
a highway lined with billboards about Jesus,
warning of hell, suggesting it’s past time
to take action in regards to salvation.
Certain neighbors visit for a slice of pie;
others happen by to proselytize,
& I mean the ones with that yard sign:
a blown-up photo of a fetus above
an easy hashtag. It’s not that I’m political;
it’s not that I’m not. Sure, I’ll sign
your petition to make the world
a better place. But I will also stand
nude at the window, certain no one
cares enough to glance in my direction.
When I wake each morning
in this world I can feel the weight
of the absence where your body belongs.

The Seventh Anniversary Is Salt & I Do Not Know the Gift for That

I have little to offer. I am not good with my hands.
Here, take these words I did not invent
& cannot sing but have used
in this particular order
for what may or may not be the first time.
I am not the strong silent type, being
neither strong nor silent. Which is good,
because look how many Marlboro Men
died of lung cancer or emphysema.
What doesn’t, unless it does, & so forth.
Your former boyfriend once carved you
the head of a lion out of a tree stump
with a chainsaw. Your father writes
you a check every year. Your mother
knits you a new umbilical cord.
I have so much to live up to.
It’s a good thing we moved
so far away, then moved again.
This is the life we imagined, a self-
sufficient farm with eggs enough to sell,
two boys naked in the yard & no one
telling us what to do. One of us will stop
smoking, then the other, then both
will stop again, again, again.
We’re doing the best we can,
quit looking at us like that.
Obviously we’re not from
around here. We chose this place.
Together. It stands for something—
a lawn to call our own, a field
for planting, Muscadine arbor
& gnarled peach tree. We could
grow things here. It’s what we wanted.
As a species we are notorious
for not knowing what we want.
We thought ourselves an exception,
but so does everyone &
there aren’t any. I think I had
myself confused with my father.
He would know what to do here.
He would see the end coming
& head it off. When I think
about him now, I imagine him
shoveling our driveway in the snow,
spreading a layer of salt to melt the ice
& keep us safe, his family,
because it was his duty & because,
I imagine, he loved us. He smoked
a lot, until he was hit by a truck
& died a few months after he retired
to a city on a gulf, a half-mile from water.
It should not have ended that way
but I guess most of us have such a complaint.
I am probably still not myself—
one of my sons, or both, or some
version of myself I’ve invented
from television characters
& game-show hosts. I am so tired
& still I have nothing to show
for all the hours of my life.
We are miles inland but the air
is dense with saltwater, our
tongues slick with brine.

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