Voracious Verses


CL Bledsoe


Visiting Cousin Rob in Little Rock


His wife was blond and pretty like mom

used to be in pictures. Their house

was so clean I was afraid to sit, so I stood.


These people lived sober lives without fear

of the man screaming in the kitchen,

the woman dying in the bedroom, the smoldering

eruption of frustration, spiked down

like butterfly wings on a page for too long.


We left late instead of staying the night,

my brother grumbling, listening to Jethro Tull

on the radio. In the darkness of Fair Oaks, we came

to a railroad crossing. A train thundered past,


sudden clouds of fire engulfed the roof

of the locomotive. My brother turned

down a side road and paced the thing. The heat

wafted against us. The engine of his minivan

growled, angry as he pulled ahead. The highway

crossed the tracks, we turned and cleared the bump, airborne


for a moment, darkness all around except for that

fiery thing less than ten feet

away, bearing down on us.

I could see my brother's short hair

framed in fire.


He slowed as it passed behind us, not even

blowing a whistle. The adrenalin

drained out of me, taking everything

else from that day with it, the fear,

the anger. "Why'd you do that?" I said

“It's late," he said, "I didn't want to wait."

That wasn't it, but I knew what he meant.


© CL Bledsoe