In Medias Res by Charlie Brice
I come from the people whose potatoes went bad,
whose land had been beaten by English dragoons,
and who had been abandoned by fat boys in Rome—
some dressed in red and a big one in white.
I come from courage-sweat of firemen in Omaha
who spoke in brogues and risked their lives
to save blazing futures—whose wives waited
in hopeless housedresses for them to come home to
boiled dinners roiling with cabbage, carrots, turnips, salt pork,
and what meat they could scrounge.
I come from one fireman blown up in a gunpowder factory,
identified by the scapular wound so tightly round his throat
they had to bury him with it. I come from his great
grandson, my Uncle Johnny, who so hated dimly lit restaurants that
he would turn on the high beam of a foot-long black police flashlight
to read the menu and bellow, “This place is too goddamned dark!”
I come from a couple who got lost in a snowstorm
in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1944 and never left.
I come from the prairie—it’s sweet smell of columbine in summer
and from the perilous purity of its frozen abyss in winter.
I come from a frayed baseball mitt stained with spit, smelling of leather,
from a Ludwig oyster pearl drum set with Zildjian cymbals in the basement,
and, in the backyard, from one tulip as red and true as a beating heart.
Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Sunlight Press, Chiron Review, Plainsongs, I-70 Review, Mudfish 12, The Paterson Literary Review, and elsewhere.