Tim Tomlinson

At Night, After the Screams

At night, after the screams wake us,
we hear

him
make his walk
to the kitchen,

hear
his callused feet scuff

the hardwood floor, hear

him mutter curses
at the carpet,
its edge

perpetually curled, hear him
go

silent

on the linoleum
of the kitchen
floor.

So much is hidden

by our mother,

in closets
behind cans and boxes.

So much

that he loves
but we love,
too.

Mallomars, Mr. Chips,
Chips Ahoy!

We hear him
rummaging,

rummaging,

the cans clinking,
the boxes cracking open,
and his hands,

his thick
callused hands
ripping

through wax paper
and plastic packaging.

Hear
the refrigerator suck
open

sense
its light through the cracks
of our bedroom doors.

When he stands
in that cold light,
when he upends the milk carton,
when he douses
the fire

in his throat,
does he wonder, as we
do,

what made him scream,
again,
this time,

his mother’s name?

 

 

 

 

Tim Tomlinson is co-founder of New York Writers Workshop, and co-author of its popular text, The Portable MFA in Creative Writing.  Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Caribbean Vistas, Citron Review, Dirty Napkin, Extracts, HALiterature, LITnIMAGE, The New Poet, New York Quarterly, and the anthology Long Island Noir (Akashic Books).  His poems, “To the Best Friend of the Girl in the Mr Peanut Costume, Halloween, 1986” (Unshod Quills), and “Night Dive, Bloody Bay Wall, Little Cayman, 1996” (the Tule Review) have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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