By Mike Lewis-Beck

End of a dust drive my scooter goes silent
losing the kick-stand into gravelled clay.
A screen door by the root cellar door
squeaks and a no face no name man
stands.  Inside I go crossing the lime
linoleum-covered kitchen;
in the far corner a coon
eating corn. 

You have cherry bombs?
The blank man hands me a brown shining sack
with a string-tie and a grease-marked number.
I pass him a fresh five-dollar bill from
the Citizens Bank that morning wondering
if he has all five fingers. The coon turns
a claw to show me leave.
I kick-start the scooter.

Along the boundary lane blacktop back
astride the blue tin motor scooter
passing corn in rectangular fields
under summer sun with no hat
but sweat dry below nylon
short-sleeves I escape
the lone farm house,
its firecrackers, its pet coon.





sky holds its grey like a rabbit,
the game we are after this chill November morning.
We had breakfasted on fried mush and sausage
by the pale dark from a kerosene lamp,
off the kitchen pantry so not to wake the house.
Light now, still dawn light, dull
but enough to navigate our fall field of corn.

I stand, my shotgun uncles all around,
looking at a clump of bramble—where
a small rabbit froze—waiting for me to shoot
with my b-b gun.  It’s cocked.  I freeze
too.  Uncle Jimmy says, Shoot. Uncle Laff,
At the eye!  I shoot, cock, and shoot
again, again.  Uncle Cletus says, Stop, it’s dead.



Mike Lewis-Beck, a PhD from Michigan, writes and works in Iowa City. He has pieces in Alexandria Quarterly, Apalachee Review, Cortland Review, Chariton Review, Pilgrimage, Iowa Review, Seminary Ridge Review, Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, and Wapsipinicon Almanac, among other venues. His short story, “Delivery in Göteborg,” received a Finalist prize from Chariton Review, 2015. His essay, “My Cherry Orchard in Iowa,” received recognition as one of the ‘Notable Essays’ in Best American Essays of 2011. His poetry book manuscript, Wry Encounters, was a Finalist for the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award 2016.