Inside Every Story

I’m telling Paul about the devil look in my pacifist father’s eyes
the moment he tells me he wishes he could go back in time &

shoot the motherfucker who hurt me, even if he ended up in jail
for the rest of his life. Paul tells me he never could understand

why Joe, the smartest kid in high school with aspirations for medicine,
became a police officer. Until, twenty years later, Joe tells him

about sitting in the hallway as a kid holding a shotgun, trying to work up
the nerve to shoot his father who’s in his sister’s bedroom, raping her.

I’m watching Paul at a quiet joint in Montgomery sipping whiskey,
sitting next to Joe drinking soda. The wooden bar is uneven & the stools

have no backs, but the air is warm & smooth music drifts through
the sound system. Paul is watching Joe in the hallway where the carpet

is shab green, the wallpaper peels & the sister’s cries are muffled.
There’s some kind of dusty moon leaking light across the back shed &

the mother is passed out, an empty bottle of vodka on the floor.
Joe is watching his father, night after night, same dark hallway, same

shotgun. There’s no redemption in this story. In a few years the sister
kills herself & Joe continues to arrest people doing bad shit, hoping

one day the story ends with him standing up, opening the door.


Alicia Elkort’s poetry has appeared in AGNI, Arsenic Lobster, Fickle Muses, Georgia Review, Heron Tree, Menacing Hedge, Rogue Agent, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and many others and is forthcoming in Black Lawrence Press.  Alicia's poems have been nominated for the Orisons Anthology (2016) and the Pushcart (2017). She lives in California and will go to great lengths for an honest cup of black tea and a cool breeze.