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Nate Fisher

Sermon VII: On Curses

Drinking Brandy with My Father

Sermon VII: On Curses

he’ll be found with crosses in his heels
            I mean
with heels crossed
            I mean
healing the fevered sick in the wilds of appalachia
            I mean
sick and wild and healed by the power
of a motel filled with escorts
            I mean
escorting bibles into motel room drawers
            I mean
filling his drawers with knots of cold cash
from slinging water found in christ’s kitchen
            I mean
knotting his hands together in a sink
filled with ice pressing the cold into
knuckled bone
            I mean
holding his hands up as he sinks
to the bottom of the Mississippi
cinder block tied around one ankle
            I mean
what did you think would happen
you just sitting there and nodding
for 104 sundays like he was
the only goddamn person
in the pasture who hadn’t
bottomed out
            I mean
why did you have to die
lose meaning in front of him
so many times
            I mean
why did you always call
            I mean
you have always had a mouth
what do you expect him to hear
now both ears below ground
            I mean
have you ever said a word
so many times it goes broke?

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Drinking Brandy with My Father

The sound of air sucked from the bottle
like the prayers he shouted at basement walls
for hours; the soft dollop on the tongue, the sound

of his body falling into facedown dead
from liquor and pills, suicided, undecided;
Clink of our toast: (and to what?) the sound

of the hailstorm he dragged 2 x 4’s into, trying
to crucify himself in the driveway, but unable
to drive the nails through; Bottle slammed

onto the table — the sound of my mother
being struck with a golf club in the pelvis;
Dropped tumbler; shattered; the sound

of his thumb as I drove him against a wall
at 17 for threatening to poison me – breaking;
the breath pushed back through the bottleneck

the static from the PA system on our porch, his voice
informing the neighbors of the hellfire
that awaited them.

The white gas lantern swimming the liquid confirms visions
he has of the rapture, of him in bed, in combat
with visible, wicked spirits; of red moons

I witnessed at age 4, being told in his delight,
his dilaudid: “It’s almost time. It’s a sign, son, sent
down to us.” A sign of him now, his adult son

visiting the camper sunken into the lawn,
surrounded by the orchard he would have inherited,
behind his mother’s house, where he holds parish.

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Nate Fisher is native to Southern Illinois and currently teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Idaho-Moscow. His work has most recently appeared in Four Chambers Press, Lalitamba and Booth Journal. In addition, he would like to remind the management that he just came in to join the crowd, but is only passing through.

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