From the paperback cover
twin boys stare, smugly
grinning in generic blue
polo shirts, sandy Seventies
bowl haircuts. Squinty eyes,
the kind of smarmy brats
the author wanted to kick
in grade school. His kid
protagonists weren’t punks.
The artist sweated sudden deadlines
under the publisher’s leaden budget.
Everyone owed a holy mortgage, so
the author lived with what he got.
The cover twins resembled
the author’s own sons: flunked
freshman English, grew sullen
mullets and forgot their father
after they found God.
When the author died, his frail
neighbors arranged a memorial
in the nursing home cafeteria.
The sour sons arrived alongside
a glycerine-weeping preacher
in a blue Swaggart suit.
He hijacked the shabby service,
denounced the dead man’s books,
tried to hellfire some scratch
out of the stoic dying mourners,
spun snaky webs twixt the kinless
roots of “penthouse” and “repent”
as if dodging godless sin was just
to win an afterlife-raffled mansion.
The boys gifted the preacher 20 bucks,
scoured their dad’s tiny room for prizes.
Found his adored Penthouse collection,
burned the dogeared stash in a pious
blacktop barbecue. Piled their pop’s
life works in brown paper bags
and dropped them for pennies
at a handy Half-Price Books.
The clerk, who was perked
to find a signed first edition,
set the blueshirt kids to smirk
at shoppers from behind locked glass.
Meanwhile, a drunk crematory stiff
dumped the author’s unclaimed ash.