RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Apr 30

Frank Rubino

The Old Whetstone

My brother and I fight about the Bible,
resting on an end table in his house, no joke,
beneath his handgun. The gun’s on top.
I pick it up. It’s heavy, black metal, 9mm Glock.
He generally wears it on his hip, even around the house.
Now, I’m admiring it as a well-made object.
Never look down the barrel of a gun! yells my brother.
And I fucking am, how embarrassing.
And do not say it is just a book! he says, when we get back to the Bible.

Newark to Seattle; drive through the pines,
past an acre lot stacked with used Fisher-Price playhouses.
A guy sells them out there in the drizzle on 101,
where somehow my brother’s grown a real gun on his side.

I know the roots of it, some.

We’re in our lunch truck; he’s in the middle, Dad’s driving,
wearing his Saint Christopher medal and a white t-shirt.
I’m trying to catch my face in the passenger side rear-view.
Always the same thought, the same eldest child dream:
Am I Superman? Am I the hero in this scene?
The mirror is the size of a bread loaf,
because the steering is so bad you need complete visibility.
The struts the mirror swings on are white,
and the mirror bolts onto the struts
with brackets welded to the back.

All the things in our life are made of the elements:
dirt, wood, screws, paint, batteries,
motor oil, blue Cub Scout knife,
conic pumping motor oil can with long needle spout—
crooked at the top— making throat singing noises,
glock glock, when pressed on the bottom,
and a drop is forced out on the whetstone
where you lay the Cub Scout blade
and move it in an arc to sharpen it.


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