Cold Potatoes in the Wind – Steve Sibra

My father worked the pipelines
at night he drank in bars
with bare bulb lights and red plastic window shades
he never shaved
when he was sober —
used a straight blade to carve himself
into the outline of a family man

My father
tore pieces off people
I watched from a pickup window
as he beat the local butcher unconscious
in an alley behind the dry cleaners
“Who taught you to treat a cow like that?”
he raged
his fists like bloody mallets
he drove drunken spikes of shame
into the slack face of a gentle man

When I was seventeen
two cattlemen came to town
found my father teetering on a bar stool
one held his arms
the other blasting holes in his chest
point blank, with a sawed-off

Pieces of his heart lay on the bar room floor

When I heard about it
I took the old Chevy Apache half-ton
and a can of gasoline
I burned their house after midnight
heard a woman’s scream
as I drove away
period of punctuation
for a long hard sentence

I parked in front of the sheriff’s house
spread out in the back of the truck
Deputy Lester shook me awake

Now I sit in the state pen
pretending to do the paperwork
big words that tell me nothing
designed to get me out

But I don’t want “out”
I am teaching myself the guitar
I want to sit cross-legged on the floor
like John Lennon in “Norwegian Wood”
then go to the prison rooftop
eat cold potatoes in the warm summer wind
watch the sun turn the color of wine.


STEVE SIBRA grew up on a wheat farm in eastern Montana in the 1960s and 1970s. He moved to Seattle and made a living for 35 years by selling vintage comic books. His poetry and prose have appeared in various lit journals including Matador Review, Shattered Wig and Sleep Aquarium.

Image via Pixabay

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