Jack Carries All He Can

by Kevin Brown

Faced with fire, I would forego the photo
albums—polaroids of birthday parties
and family trips to the beach held together

by yellowing tape—leave the quilt my
grandmother made, even financial files
for retirement.  Doug and I watch 

The Jerk, laugh at the only thing Nevin
needed:  an ashtray, then a paddle
game, then a remote control, matches,

but not the dog, definitely not the dog.
We make irrational lists at the end
of our lives, ignore our carrying capacity,

allow infinite trips into our houses
or bodies.  I would take the basketball
game against our archrival in my senior

season, my free throws forcing overtime,
my steal saving our high school souls,
or I would pick up my prom, carry it

like a damsel in distress across the threshold
of memory. I did not get drunk or lucky,
but both possibilities were present, teased

as high as my date’s hair.  I would carry
them both and more if my stiffening body
could bear their weight, if I could find them
in the flames.

 

Kevin Brown is a Professor at Lee University. He has published two books of poetry–A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press) and Exit Lines (Plain View Press, 2009)–and two chapbooks: Abecedarium (Finishing Line Press, 2011) and Holy Days: Poems (winner of Split Oak Press Chapbook Contest, 2011). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again (Wipf and Stock, 2012), and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels (Kennesaw State University Press, 2012). He received his MFA from Murray State University.

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