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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 1: January 2020
Poem: 328 words
By Scott Ferry

The way my father ate chicken

revealed the source of his hunger.
He assimilated each leg quickly and thoroughly, 
lapping every sinew and hanging thread of its juice.
He glanced at my bones when I set them down
and shook his head. You missed a lot of meat.
He was born in 1932, in the middle of the starving. 
His father died at age 26 from heart damage 
from the Spanish Flu and Strep.
His mother remarried a selfish man who spent 
little attention on Lyle, more on a bottle. 
His stepfather, Gary, would refer to him as the boy 
to his wife while Lyle sat right next to him at the table,
as in, Can you tell the boy to mow the lawn?
Lyle decided to become more than a third person,
winning student body president at both 
Excelsior High and Long Beach State.
He cruised his Austin-Healey with charm, 
joined the elite fraternity, visited the UCLA
chapter and stole all their women (he bragged).
He became an English teacher in his old neighborhood 
while most of his friends became multi-millionaires. 
We still skied with the Haleys in Mammoth,
visited the Malloys on San Juan Island,
but there was always a vacuum in his mouth,
lack in his words. He began to bald, so he spent
nearly an hour each morning spraying 
aerosol maple on his scalp and fashioning
his side hair over his crown. I can still taste
the PVP in the air by the three-way mirror.
His glib and profuse words failed to direct his family, 
because we had swallowed them too many times.
He turned to shouting. We knew he was still 
the president, he didn’t need to remind us every day,
with 10,000 words. Of course, we stopped
listening. And in the barking, I heard 
the brittle hunger of a boy, two thin bones
on his plate.
Scott Ferry
Issue 1, January 2020

helps our veterans heal, as an RN. In previous lives he taught high school and practiced acupuncture. He has recent writing in Cultural Weekly, KYSO Flash, Noble/Gas Qtrly, Slippery Elm, and Swimming with Elephants, among others. His first collection, The only thing that makes sense is to grow, will be published by Moon Tide Press in early 2020.

Poet’s website: https://ferrypoetry.com

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