by Dante Di Stefano
by Dustin Brown
Mice have taken over my bedroom.
They catapulted themselves
onto my bed, battering rammed
the pillow to the floor.
The door is barricaded—
locked, I should guess. I haven’t
been in there since Tuesday,
and my plants are probably dead
or at least lonely. Any time
I knock and ask to enter,
the usurping mice squeak obscenities
into the keyhole until I leave.
Today I finally hired a locksmith,
who broke through the door.
Inside, the mice stood sentinel.
My room had never been cleaner
and the newly ochre-painted walls glowed
like the noon sun. My houseplants
had grown into a forest
full of honeysuckle and elm.
Not one plant had missed me, not even a little.
When the mice charged, phalanx formation,
they shouted warcries in ancient Greek.
Small, toothpick-sized spears entered
my ankles, my bare feet, the spaces
between door and way.
A war that lasted three minutes, territory
ceded to those who cared more, who had proven
themselves worthy caretakers. And I now sleep
in the spare room. Its walls are empty and thin.
At night, I hear the mice singing
hymns as old as the pre-pubescent sun.
Dustin Brown has a BA in creative writing from Western Michigan University. He was a fiction reading intern at Third Coast Magazine and an editorial intern at New Issues Poetry & Prose.
These days he teaches English to high schoolers in Spain, writes, and eats delicious food.
He has poetry published at Poetry Quarterly, Hollin’s Critic, Coe Review, Punchnel’s, Waterhouse Review, Third Wednesday, the Laureate, and Strong Verse Online.
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The girl felt a flick against her instep, and although the drowse of the day was thick upon her, she knew that when she opened her eyes her father’s fishing rod would be gone from where she had held it under her foot. She stood at the dock’s edge and looked at the blue-brown water. The concentric circles of the pole’s disappearance had only just begun their outward expansion. There was still a chance to catch the rod.