January Index Cards

Collin Garrity

1. Cold Turkey

My father is away in Kosovo

and I am maybe eleven. My mother is scared

that the axe will hit me, and it lands

too-lightly on the turkey’s neck.

Now the turkey is scared as well.

2. IOU

When I turn ten, I am allowed to help my parents’ church

count the offering, separating  the brightly colored coins.

Every week there are unsigned IOUs.

Pretending to throw them away, I pocket them.

3. Squinting in college

My roommate gets into his bed saying

I can’t believe squinting works,

We both fall asleep thinking about this.

4. Ephemeral

Something breaks in the kitchen and

from across the room someone asks:

what was that.

5. Fool’s Errand Boy

We are in college; it is not raining.

I am in the back seat of the car, talking

about a poem. I say it’s about the absurd idea that

we are expected to believe that any of this is real.

We are at a stoplight and they both turn

to stare at me. They are beautiful.

‘we are science majors’ they say.

6. Stitches

I am young, peeling carrots

into the kitchen sink. Looking down,

I imagine that I have six fingers.

7. Small Craft Advisory Potatoes

The captain begins to curse the fish and flotsam

in our net but soon moves on to the sea, diesel in general

and his eye-doctor. These are the regular customers

of his mousetrap anger, but today is an exceptional day

of frustration and as an endboss, he lays a sling of curses

on private eyes.  It is really raining and his mouth and the sky

are a pair of storm-twins. Then he stops to point at the portside distance.

look at that bird’ he says, ‘that’s got to be a hard life.’

8. Adjective

I am under her blankets. The phrase

‘all the books I’ve ever read’

comes into my mind. Did I read it somewhere?

It is an adjective for what we are doing.

9. Dinnertime

I am fourteen, reading Steinbeck on a bench beside

the Kander river. It is the first time I have cried

because of art. The wind picks up,

and my prohibition-drinkmouse-day

begins to end.

9.5 Left-Bank Gypsy Jazz

It is wintertime and I am in the bar’s doorless bathroom.

The ceramic basin is so cold that my piss steams

and I am forced to watch as I breathe my own urine.

9.5 Honesty

I am 22, pouring coffee

on a Sunday. My missionary mother asks me

to stop taking communion.

9.5 Athiest

I am a first-grader in Brussels.

The roasted metro-chestnuts smell like January index-cards.

I ask, but we cannot afford them.

10. Too Young for Wabi-Sabi

We are near Aix-en-Provence. I am eight and my father

sets me to work raking leaves from a forgotten nine holes

of miniature-golf.  I smell bread and pine-sap

and feel the pride of a job well done.

The day will be warm and I watch a falling leaf

undo the shoelace of my work.

I carry it to the base of a poplar

with the patience of someone who knows

they are going to leave a place

and not come back.

Collin Garrity is enrolled in his final semester at Warren Wilson College. He grew up in Germany and Belgium, moving to the US to attend university. He spends his summers working on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska. His work has appeared or will appear in: The Peal Literary Journal, The Warren Wilson Echo, {RE}vision, Sono Libero, The Madison Review, Allegheny Review and Hamlet Hair. He can be reached at Paleblueatlasclub@gmail.com.