Homework on Uranus
I am washing the dinner dishes while my son,
his shoulders slumped at the kitchen table, groans
about his science homework while my wife
waits with the patience of a beach stone
beside him, tapping a pen and pointing
at the assignment. “Concentrate,” she says.
My son moans like an apathetic ghost then starts
reading his assignment and immediately laughs.
“Dad, this article says that Uranus is a ‘gas giant.’”
He buckles over, grabbing his gut, hysterical.
My wife glares at me, a laser beam of derision,
hoping against hope that I’ll be the father-figure,
explaining to my twelve-year old son that Uranus jokes
are sophomoric, that he needs to concentrate
on his school work and not succumb toilet humor
or fatuous planet puns and concentrate, son.
Concentrate. Instead, I drop the pot I’m drying
and haw, a hearty guffaw. “Uranus is a gas giant!” I say.
My son blows a raspberry on his forearm, tears
streaming down his flushed face as my wife stands up.
“I’m done. You help him with this,” she says to me
and leaves the kitchen, leaving my son and me, both
in middle school: wedgies in a distant locker room,
fingers pulled in class, laughing in the face of maturity.
Billy Collins Stole My Memories
You can have them. I won’t press charges.
I won’t miss most of them—the church pews
polished with Pine-Sol, the blandness
of the Eucharist, the briny taste of guilt;
the dope then Suboxone then withdrawals;
the suicide attempt followed by a week
in the psych ward staring out the window
as the cops approached a trap house, guns
drawn; the warm flesh of my many infidelities.
This morning I made breakfast without memories
or eggs or butter or a block of sharp cheddar.
My kids didn’t notice that I was barefoot
and Billy Collins was wearing my moccasins.
But this strictly a “no-return policy” interaction.
Everything is yours now, Billy. Don’t fuck it up.
Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife and kids. His books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014). Almost Christmas, a collection of short prose pieces, was published by Redneck Press on 2017. Graziano writes a baseball column for Dirty Water Media in Boston. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com.