Michelle Walbaum

Couch in a House with Five Boys

          It soaks in human oils,
fingernail-clippings in the shape of moons
when they laid there in rows, fat babies.

A girlfriend heard it, felt the edges of the upholstery curl.
Heard it move.

Feet edge out and
with a toe
          touch its underbelly,
                    the fossil layer.

A GI Joe
with gnawed-off hand
          silent and stiff as if in church
while basketballs shudder outside, slip into nets.
And the boys yelling. And he’s still inside.

Joe touches his green
beret but can’t twitch his paralyzed eye.
Nor creak his neck back or forth.
          They’ve abandoned him
for moving limbs but

they’ll get
          older, all of them but
Joe won’t and
their faces
will droop but
Joe’s won’t,

formed with a tool that molds men
to the angles they should have,
thirty-five, with gun and cap and smile and no
post-traumatic disorder.

About the author

12.4 (Summer 2008)   The 2River View