Brother

JOHN MUELLNER

His deviousness is so perfectly tuned, those reaching
hands ambush my shoulders from behind

as the bark in his voice strikes my skull. I’m left
practically panting as he dances past, laughing.

He doesn’t have the courtesy to say
if the sneak attack was to hear me scream

and curse, or because he knows I need a brother.
He knows I’m looking for a jolt – says, maybe when

you’re married – after he whisked her off for a Chicago
weekend, while I fussed with my bookshelf.

He knows he can’t hold my heart the way
I need someone to; he’d juggle the drippy red mass

when I need it cupped like a wild cricket
by someone who wants to harbor the song. Would he leave

a hole between fingers for air? Would he know
to keep the gap small – that I’m likely to spring

into traffic, hoping he’d dash after me, leap for leap.
And that’s my problem, isn’t it?

A spirited squeeze comes along to remind
me that I’m human, that bones and skin look

for more of their kind to keep each other upright, and I
want to test him. I expect him to chase me in the street

as soon as he loosens his hold. I expect praise
for my music, though I startle at my wings.

sand hills

John Muellner is a gay poet living in suburban Minnesota, currently in the thick of attaining his MA from the University of St. Thomas. His work can also be read, or will soon be read, online in, IndiciaGertrude Press, and River River.

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