Lionel Harrington



Patricide illo
Maybe because his back was bent,
left leg two inches shorter than right,
or because he was too tired to swing a belt
after fourteen-hour stints in gravel pits,
or because his own daddy was a pacifist—
whatever the reason,
mine never went for corporal punishment.
When I broke shit
or backtalked
or drank gin
or got caught
screwing Becky Horvath in her hatchback,
my old man walked me out to the dunghill.
A soft enough place to sit,
warm, too.
If you didn’t mind the damp
and smell
and flies
and shut your eyes
you might think you were at a spa.
A nice weekly, steamy getaway
I sometimes stared at the horses,
thinking I should steal them,
sell them. I sometimes fantasized
about a wheelbarrow full of feces
dumped on Daddy’s bed.
He always slept on his left side,
way out on the right edge,
as if to make sure
he wasn’t hogging
all the real estate.
Mama traded him in
for Jimmy Henry Jackson,
a motorcycle salesman,
when I was ten.
When I was seventeen,
out of spite, I bought a bike from Uncle Jim,
drove it from Missoula clear to Tuscaloosa
’cause I thought I had a thing for southern girls.
It’d be nice to say, I never went back.
It’d be nice to say, I’m on some tenure track.
It’d be nice to say, I didn’t spend my days
shoveling shit for a manure manufacturer
outside Birmingham.
It’s not exactly any of that.
Sometimes you wind up up north again,
too tired to think past supper,
too tired to remember
the last time you had any blood
in your pecker.
I used to toss words
like lit M-80s
at my father.
I used to toss
lit M-80s
and start fires.
Have you ever imagined
a mountain of shit made into a funeral pyre?

Mud Lust

Mud lust
Have you ever looked at a mud puddle
with a hard-on?
Bear track at the edge
like the tramp stamp
on a hot mess?
There’s something so easy,
so accessible,
so approachable,
so delightfully inviting
about that mud, that paw print.
Jump on in, boy, get your feet wet,
lose your boots, boy,
wiggle your toes a bit.
I’ve been knee-deep in pussy 
since the day I was born.
Try telling that to the bear.
Over there, my friend.
Watching from the shadows.
There, there!
In the shallows.
There, in the middle
of the very mud puddle
in which you’re rooting about
buck naked like a piggy pig.
That bear is going to eat your nose,
my friend. He’s going to devour your mouth,
my boy. He’s going to gnaw your cheekbones,
your bone.
Heaven knows, you shouldn’t roll and rut
in wallows when bears are so very close.

Bruised Fruit

Bruised Fruit
Faded in Novato off of Highway One,
I miss you, sugarplum.
In my withered veins,
in between my toes,
in my desiccated bones,
in my scabs,
in my scars,
in the thrush in my throat.
In my bruised fruit.


Ram me, baby,
ram me.
mutton chops,
give ‘em to me.
Beasty looks out in fury,
set to stampede my soul.
Licks his lips.
I lick my lips.
Braise his ribs.
Watch his meat
fall off the bone.