William Fargason

2021, Poetry

WHEN THE COP TELL 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 ReviewNew England ReviewBarrow StreetPrairie SchoonerRattleThe Cincinnati ReviewNarrative, 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.