Scott Ferry

Scott Ferry
writes too much about ghosts. And his children. Someone should tell him, but until then you can find his work in American Journal of Poetry, Cultural Weekly, and Misfit, among others. His second book is about to drop on Main St. Rag is called Mr. Rogers kills fruit flies.

gift of sleepless rivers

i try to put my daughter to sleep
but she kicks against the black sheen
and i barely lift above the ~~~~
worms and white whales slip

into the ~~~~ her shins rub off the starry blanket
it is july and willows won’t grow in swamps
snakes won’t apologize for blanketing
under ~~~~ her scapula jabs my arm

and her heat boils the ~~~~ her eyes
are counting the star lights above her window
she knows insomnia already the ~~~~
which musics inside a salt accordion

i gave this to her through dark dominos
latticed in serotonin-starved ~~~~
and now she makes bargains with the ferryman
at either end of the ~~~~ like i have

done for years but i am luckily sleep-rich
lately and she is poor but her eyes finally close
her thin boat sliding through the ~~~~
(we insomniacs know the blank mouth

of the ferryman is wrong on either shore)
she flips a dorsal elbow through the ~~~~
her silver teeth chatting math
and under the ~~~~ i see her abandoned oars

God as distraction

1. “God damn it!” my father bellows to my mother and sister
through the drywall and cement i’m sure all the way
to the off-white house to our south—
silence we steal and strawberries along the borders
and to the white-haired lady in the cream house to the north
with the cacti in rock and the kitchen smell of burnt frosting
with her 5 cats—i hope to God she doesn’t hear him

     2. My daughter refuses to turn on her zoom screen
because her classmate (who she struck with a tree branch
yesterday when he wouldn’t leave her sacred rock)
is now talking about not hitting people on the playground
she weeps in a curl of muscle and all i can do is raise my voice
lift her shaking into her room where she screams when i shut the door
and listen to the recording of my father in the electric hallway

3. My last year of teaching the anger became a cramp that cancered
my throat when the girl in my class began crying in the conference room
her teeth slicing my accusations of her not complying
with my rules—my skin flat deflating in ribbons as she cried
and her parents silent and the Assistant Principal handed her a tissue
and i think now what kind of monster makes a girl weep
in front of her parents? what empty wind clears an airless room?

     4. The Minarets tooth through the white shoulders and hips
below Mammoth Mountain i see my father’s sunglassed eyes
in the March sun i notice a rare grin he clicks his orange boots into skis
my gloved hands loose before gripping poles and pushing off again
i can almost forget there were breaths between the clinching
and if he knew a God it was here in these short delays outside the gondola—
the stolen panoramas of granite and tooth—the distracted connection of earth and sky

     5. After he dies he keeps coming to me in the bathroom (either while
i am on the toilet or standing in the shower) just long enough for the tasks
in my hallways to stop screaming just long enough to be distracted
by the camera’s soft-light blurring my insides and to feel his calm
rinse into the room (a calm i wish he had allowed himself for more than
three breaths) and i think on my daughter and her temper and how to soothe
her nerves with an electric glove—how to teach her to love her own hands

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