[Poetry] — Adam Houle

I Might Be a New and God-Sent Snow

My mother remembers him drunk,
raving in the front rooms. He flips an end
table into the wall, slams cupboard doors
just to hear them slam. And what sort of son

knows this and still seethes at so much?
Fears inherited I wrap with hymns, not prayers
but wards against our genes, her father, his rage,
the Soo Line’s true nihilist. She flinches at car doors

or gunshots on tv and sometimes seems so lost.
On Oakland the streetlights are far apart,
their glow uncommitted, and you can’t tell
if the snow is fresh, a god-sent snow, falling

or if it’s just wind-lifted, old snow come again
off roofs or cars slumped under years of harder winters.

You Shut Up in Jefferson, Texas

Brother Matt said it’s best I bite my tongue
but none of this seems the Lord’s good will
and so I call for blame where blame belongs.

Nothing nothing nothing then a jagged cough comes on.
To move is pain. We hope. We pray. And still
Brother Matt says it’s best I bite my tongue.

Me, at first light: Where and what and who went wrong—
a trip to Ace or a waiter handing back the bill?
And so I call for blame where blame belongs

My mind moves backward: older, old, tired, young.
Is it sin to want when you’ve hollowed out your fill?
Brother Matt says it’s best I bite my tongue.

The world’s too bright. I’d shoot out the sun,
snap clean the beaks of birds to quit their mindless trill—
I’ll sing out blame where blame belongs.

This steadiness is hate. I am not strong.
I can love the lord and hate his will.
Brother Matt says it’s best I bite my tongue,
but for I call for blame where blame belongs.

*

Adam Houle is the author of Stray (Lithic Press 2017), a finalist for the Colorado Book
Award. His poems have appeared in AGNI, Shenandoah, Baltimore Review, and elsewhere.
He currently lives in South Carolina, where he is an assistant professor of English at Francis
Marion University.