Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

“Behind the Eyes, & Shining”

Book Excerpt: Tap Out

Behind the Eyes, & Shining

If I could say it once, clearly. If I could get it right.
If I could hold it all together in my mind: the pollen shook loose

like dander and the sapsucker punching holes
in the siding. The chainlink grown through birch and wind

where the ranch used to be. If I could pass my body
through the seam between shingle and ridge-beam, linoleum

and plank. Return as termite, ditch-weed. If I could go back
to that July in Northampton, blowing fiber-glass

into rich folks’ attics. To when me and Ant
let the blower run and smoked blunts all day in the trailer.

To when it was a scam and we knew it. If I could admit
it was a scam: my father’s voice soft on the machine. Sober.

Asking me to call back. If I had to admit why I won’t. If I had to reckon
with what the past asks of the present. If I am here

in his van. Stale cigarillo smoke and the heavy redolence
of the body. Windows fogged over. Blankets damp with rain.

If I squat against the wheelwell, and look at his quiet hands,
and do not turn away. If they tremble. If they’re still.