Originally published in Conceit magazine.

She juts her lips and crosses her arms
with an emphatic No!
Why are you angry? I ask,
and she says, I don’t know.
Radical righters rage against gun control
as the newsbreak explodes,
the announcer’s eyes gleaming
with children caught
in the sights of a maniac.

I lift her in my arms, and she rests
her head against my chest.
Where were their mommies and daddies?
Did the man kill them too? she asks.
I hold her tightly,
my face buried in her hair.
Jeez, Dad, you’re squeezing me to death.
And slowly, gently,
I lower her to the floor
and let go.



Penney refused at first to enter the woods that day,
rearing gently, but not high enough to throw my balance.
Legs hugging her sides, I lay against her neck,
mane brushing my face,
petted, stroked, coaxed, but she would not enter
the place we’d entered countless times before.

She had gone everywhere with me, for me:
into thickets and brambles,
alongside the busiest highway,
into the river where I dove from her back.

He had yelled the night before
that I was worse than my mother—
this, after the woman told me about the pills,
the ones that assured her
no others like me
would surprise her or him.

So we rode away,
Penney and I,
but at the woods, she balked.
Then my mother’s voice
called in the distance,
tinged with something more than frustration.

Penney reared, settled,
tucked her head,
and entered the brush,
and I rode,
I rode as fast as I could,
away from those days,
those voices.



This old house needs new shingles,
faded and scarred by seasons—
a dye job, he chuckles,
hand raking through his own gray.

Chipped corners mark the day when she screamed
at the sudden clap of thunder, the rush of wind
lifting a single shingle up and away;
the day the baseball hit hard,
the day he slid to the roof’s edge,
the antenna wire in his hand
snapping taut at the last moment.

This old house needs a new roof,
yet he waits, reluctant
to bury the years under new shingles,
drawing out the days
one shake at a time.

C.S. Fuqua’s books include White Trash & Southern ~ Collected Poems ~ Vol. I, Hush, Puppy! A Southern Fried Tale (children’s picture book), Rise Up (short fiction collection), The Native American Flute: Myth, History, Craft, Trust Walk (short fiction collection), The Swing: Poems of Fatherhood, Divorced Dads, and Notes to My Becca, among others. His work has appeared in publications such as Main Street Rag, Pudding, Dark Regions, Iodine, Christian Science Monitor, Cemetery Dance, Bogg, Year’s Best Horror Stories XIX, XX and XXI, Amelia, Slipstream, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, The Writer, and Honolulu Magazine.