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Scott Weaver


In each issue, the editors choose a writer they would like to bring
to the readers' attention.

In this issue, poet Scott Weaver is highlighted.

A man, now old enough to become a dad, plays a pick up one-on-one basketball game with his father: "I drive my shoulder into the center of his chest / and shake loose his last gasp." In these six poems, Scott Weaver shakes loose the implications of family. A son remembers his mother as he cleans out her refrigerator after she dies: "....but I am left with my busy hands / heedlessly shaping you into the memory / I need most..." Approaching the birth of a daughter, a soon to be father, as if in mock prayer, says: "...may she be wise enough // to recognize the guide to home and ghosts / earlier than I did, her father who must / one day recede into his flames." Let's read and watch the poems sink a bank shot off the backboard called family: "I rise over him, / single piston, kiss / the ball sweet off the glass and in."

After a Night of Reading Dante, I Rise Too Early In the Morning

My Father the Pool Shooter

My Father, the Loser

Ghost Photos

Refusing Dreams

Cynic's Dinner

After a Night of Reading Dante, I Rise Too Early In the Morning

Stout on the stove above a shaking flame
the pregnant kettle awaits its water’s scream
when a thin blast of steam instead groans

O Tuscano!, Farinata’s attempt from his own fire
to flag down the strange familiar voice
suddenly tramping through eternity.

But I live in Texas, not Tuscany,
so the kettle asks accusingly:
Who you kin to?

My people, we skittered from Europe
like the Italian Roast bean that dove
beneath the dishwasher this morning

and escaped its dawn execution.
My wife’s came west via Jackson’s Indian Removal—
“came” the polite way to put it, travel agent history.

This morning she’s asleep on her side
with our not-yet-newborn daughter
who one day will take both of our tongues

if we’re lucky, but what will we say about tears,
“—Veil of” indexed under “—Trail of”?
How do I explain that the tears we hope she sheds

at her first sight of this world
are the selfsame cries that chain her to our grand mess,
newly minted ancestors she had no choice in choosing?

O God or Fortune, O personal Yahweh-cum-Epicurean,
may she learn my family’s taciturn Midwestern clank
of ill-tuned pipe organ, may she inherit too

the key-jangle Texan spoken in these hills.
May she steal our words even as we utter them
and learn comfort as we learn the same.

Lord, may she have the language, the rhetorical toys
to repel my own stupid future Farinata
in the face of hem lines, borrowed car keys and boys,

to leave me shaking defiant some Friday night
in a hell of my own making, only to peak meekly
through a 3am window, sure of the worst,

like gibbering Cavelcante, who in my youth
I never thought to pity. After my demands
quiver into tears, may she be wise enough

to recognize the guide of home and ghosts
earlier than I did, her father who must
one day recede into his flames. 

Return to list of poems

My Father the Pool Shooter

Someday I may ask you to imagine
a cue ball spinning on an impossibly small
spot of felt the way dogma-drunk theologians reasoned
a million angels could dance with one another on the head of a pin.

Imagine, I might whisper, one night of luck,
your practiced mask of indifference, your cool
soft-shoe around the bar’s single table
lining up bank shots with impossible angles, a few hours free
from loss—
                                             imagine the beer your partner hands you,
                                             the way her grin wraps itself around
                                             the new sound of your name, guilt a blanket
                                             kicked off in the middle of the night.

Listen— imagine glasses of beer sweating
in the hands of friends whose pity has broken
into awe as you sink shot after impossible shot,
scattering newly racked stripes and solids
into a constellation only you can see,

imagine calling, despite this later hour, to whisper her name.

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My Father, the Loser

He shuffle-steps across the driveway concrete
a final perfect time, though now with heavy feet.
I lead him to me, away from the rim.
He follows, crouched shadow, shading me
to my weak right hand,
but his brittle breath drags
so laborious its catch echoes.
I drive my shoulder into the center of his chest
and shake loose his last gasp.

                        What did you expect
I want to ask. Forgiveness?
That I wouldn’t shame you with
the same violence
I learned, that I would turn
from weakness you taught me
to recognize? That I wish
I could understand this inheritance?
                        We’ve learned
to quiet the open line between us
well enough that I watch the body
I used to fear crumple backwards
after seventeen years.
I rise over him,
single piston, kiss
the ball sweet off the glass and in.

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Ghost Photos


Here is William Kurtz
holding aloft his new gold watch
Its back bears a depression,

a name
that now outlasts him.
My mother’s father
good-nighted her

in fading German
gutes herz—“good heart.”
Here stands William Kurtz,
timeless, flanked by family

and the flesh his heart
will soon retire.          



It’s plain how happy she is,
how plain he is, and lucky,
this bad-tuxed balding man,
my father at his wedding.
It’s clear who got the best
of this marriage
aunts mutter
to stoic uncles. She’s now a Weaver,
English and Scotch, rootless
Southern Indiana clan,
too historyless and pitiful
for her father, who does his best
to loom over his new son-in-law.

My father doesn’t seem to notice.
He wears the ceremony like a suit
he’s spent his life saving for, forever
proud in his thick plastic glasses
and safecracker’s smile.



They bussed to the top of this Hawaiian mountain
     to watch the sun come up
or some such thing my mother thought
     they must do in order to
squeeze the last cent from the thousand dollars plus

spent celebrating thirty years of marriage.
     As it’s done each morning
without them, the sun begins the day at a retiree’s pace,
     just as it will again
when they’re down the mountain, once she’s gone

and he’s left sifting copies of insurance policies,
     photos like this one
I’ve placed next to the picture of my wife, who I am afraid
     each day will die
because now I know she will. But this world, their world is still

and warm and finally light, the day is always coming.
     Nothing can keep them
from spending it together, over and over, as if the bank has made
     a massive clerical error
and continues to deposit innumerable sums into their account.

Return to list of poems

Refusing Dreams

After we finished hoping,
after they cut her open
this is how she returns:
                                latex-covered hands
lift this tumor stillborn from her abdomen.
It sits on some stainless steel surface,
blameless now,
                           quiet little engine.

I used to dream myself back home
kissing her hello again, clear tubes
like atlas interstates
stretching up from under her nightgown.

I opened the refrigerator
out of habit, overwhelmed with accumulation:
pastel meat, carrots past soft, milk unchecked
and nearly solid, everything on the verge
of changing form—what would you have done?
I dumped it all into a garbage bag,
dragged it to the curb.

It was a thing that I could do.
I didn’t know what I was doing,
didn’t know my every thoughtless action
would take root inside of me
long after motion turned to memory.

Mother, forgive me
for returning you
to the cutting table,
                               for hanging
flaps of skin over your ribs,
for reaching into you
again and again,
                          but I’m left with just my busy hands
heedlessly reshaping you into the memory
I need most at any moment, working fast
with scraps forever spoiling, each attempt
more beautiful and further from the thing.

Return to list of poems

Cynic's Dinner

I’m alone in the kitchen
listening to Mahalia Jackson, the Newport album
my wife put on before she left
to entertain our guests.
                                                After the 5,000 RPM climax
of He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands, Ms. Jackson down-shifts,
and I no longer know

if the popping I’m hearing
is the broth begging to boil
in the dark blue speckled stew pot
or if it’s Ms. Jackson’s cool-down clapping
so taken as she was
by the Spirit.
                        I’d like to take a moment
such as this, fraught with a pause
I only know as post-coital,
to say a little something about faith, my comparative lack

but now the broth begins to boil
so the noodles I worked up late last night
must be dropped by the handful into the pot.

The noodles are as narrow as my dull knife
and lack of skill allow, this my Midwestern clan’s mystery,
to cut each the width of a matchstick or less
as Aunt Mary Ann instructed—
My mother thought the secret was the noodle’s width,
I think it’s true. Perhaps it soaks up more broth,
nonetheless it’s harder to do.

                                       Tonight the noodles are their own occasion.
I’m in the kitchen trying to summon
both family and past back to me
as people have countless times before with homeland spices, seeds
smuggled in coat linings, packed tight in trunks, people alone but for their faith,
crossing an ocean so vast and final that to name it would be folly.

Even though I’ve never caught the Spirit
and not-so-secretly hope I never do,
there’s something like joy
in my heart tonight,
joy in the place where I’m most a cynic,
most like the snarling Greek dog
that gives us the word—

                                                Lord Jesus, if you’re listening, thank you then
for my reluctance as strong as the thing
that moved through Mahalia,
concrete as the disbelief that held my eyes open
when my family said grace, that holds me apart
from my family tonight, thank you for this food
that appears after a ritual
I didn’t know I knew, thank you too for surrounding me
with people who complicate the things I think I believe
in the most beautiful ways, who I feed now with thanks,
who taste the noodles, heavy with salt, and become a part of me.

                                                Thank the Lord, wherever He is,
whoever he is, the Watchmaker, Board Game Player,
the on-the-lam Jokester, laughing at our doubt,
                                                thank you for our homes, wherever they are
and the way the whole wide world opens up before me
when I finally quiet myself and listen
to a woman shouting a song.

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Scott Weaver is the author of Home & Ghosts, forthcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press in Winter 2015.His poems have appeared in Rattle, Sou'wester,The New York Quarterly and other journals. He lives with his wife, Kelli Ford; his daughter, Cypress; and their dog Sylvia in Richmond, VA. You can find him online at

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