WHEN THE COP TELLS US
to call our parents we do: we had been caught
drinking Smirnoff Green Apple behind
the Hoover Met. Then the cop tells us
he would’ve taken us in, my friend and I,
if we looked more scummy. At seventeen,
I believed this to be luck, as one might
believe the rain stopping right when you walk
to your car, or a string of green lights, I believed
that where we parked my friend’s truck
in the dark of that parking lot was a safe place
to drink on a Wednesday night, our two outlines
slumped against the truck bed throwing
the empty bottles into the edge of the woods.
Now, I see there is no luck in these situations:
we were white, and so was the cop
with his shining bald white head. If we’d been
Black we wouldn’t have been given the chance
to call our parents, we wouldn’t have been given
anything at all. And so we walked free. For almost
a decade later I believed in luck, in what
I thought we got ourselves out of, not realizing
our skin had opened an escape hatch
and would again and again and again.
ELEGY FOR ANOTHER LATE-NIGHT PHONE CALL
Another drop in the bucket, how he
asked how the weather was
up here, said words.
I stopped therapy, I told him.
We never saw the same sun
the same. Schooldays we wouldn’t
talk more than a glance
when he entered the room,
eyes like a lighthouse beacon.
I was the rocks, or he was, one of us
crashing into the other. Now older,
I have to check each stove knob
three times before I can leave
my house. Father, your hands
were storms. Have I only
imagined you were ever there?
I’m trying to understand.
Father, I forgive you
or I don’t. If I say I’m coming home,
please leave the porch light on.
William Fargason is the author of Love Song to the Demon-Possessed Pigs of Gadara (University of Iowa Press, April 2020), and the winner of the Iowa Poetry Award. His poetry has appeared in The Threepenny Review, New England Review, Barrow Street, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, The Cincinnati Review, Narrative, and elsewhere. He earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Maryland and a PhD in poetry from Florida State University. He lives with himself in Sparks Glencoe, Maryland, where he serves as the poetry editor at Split Lip Magazine.