Men with Guns

Bath time and books
and still he won’t sleep

I lie down beside him

Backwards counting
and deep breathing
don’t do the trick

A second round of prayers
before I pretend to sleep

But he nudges me
Shakes me
Presses his face to mine
in the pitch black

His warm toothpaste breath
whispering from his pure mouth:
Wake up, Daddy.
Wake up!

A mouth where straight white teeth
have yet to decay
and his tongue has yet to sharpen
Where cherry lips have yet to be kissed
by someone who will break his heart

A mouth that’s never cursed his father
or screamed at his mother
That’s never inhaled smoke
or tasted wine going down
or wine coming up

A mouth that’s never been bloodied
in a bar fight
or blistered by the sun
That’s never been violated
or covered by a hand from behind
or duct taped shut

A mouth that’s never thirsted in the desert
or starved in the winter
That’s never been silenced by laws
or men with guns
or a finger in the darkness

Isaac Rankin lives in Asheville, NC. He works at an all-boys boarding school, Christ School, where he serves as Associate Director of Advancement. Working in schools is Isaac’s calling, but he also enjoys traveling near and far, following sports obsessively, and chasing his son in the backyard. His poems, creative nonfiction, and short stories have appeared or will soon appear in the Broad River Review, Potomac Review, William & Mary Review, and other places.

Next Page (Samantha Samakande)

Previous Page (Francesco Levato)