I drove us both in my first car,

Silence heavier than July air after the rain.

You began to cry, scream, your fist

Shot to the side of my face. My glasses fell below the dash.

I kept calm, drove ahead, enjoying the sudden shift to blur,

Unable to accept what you carried was ours.

I swore I’d get the money.

I still wanted to daydream and drink cheap beer

Around bonfires, scream words to hardcore punk,

Be dead before 40 and celebrate directionless bliss.

I wanted nothing I couldn’t afford

To lose.

Thirty days later we found ourselves in the park.

Sunlight through the windshield tightens our faces. Your crying

Is quieter. Your voice between stuttered breaths describe discharge,

Possible tiny limb in toilet bowel calm. Being a coward

My ears turned to distant traffic and the drone of overhead geese.

Candy-colored merry-go-round horses hung suspended.

Eyes and nostrils flared wide in hysterical glee, the saddled elephant

On a metal spring swaying against the breeze. I knew we’d never

Fuck or be friends again, knowing I was damned

For my sense of relief, knowing also that someone was spared,

And relief turned to love, the grain and purity

Of a father’s love.

Troy Schoultz is a lifelong Wisconsin resident. He's currently a sometimes lecturer at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. My poems, stories, and reviews have appeared in Seattle Review, Rattle, Slipstream, Chiron Review, Word Riot, Fish Drum, The Great American Poetry Show, Steel Toe Review, Midwestern Gothic and many others in the U.S. and U.K. since 1997.  He's the author of two chapbooks and one full-length collection: A Field of Bonfires Sings (Wolf Angel Press, 1999), Good Friday (Tamafyr Mountain Poetry 2005), Biographies of Runaway Dogs (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2017) and No More Quiet Entrances (Luchador Press, 2020).