Born with a Burden

by Lee Crowell
Wild Poetry Forum
Third Place, February 2015
Judged by Ned Balbo

The grasp of my son’s hand around my throat,
his growl that a blood brother sniper friend will
put a bullet in my head doesn’t seem to crush me
as completely as when I retell the event in this oak
paneled chamber seated behind a table with a single
black microphone. Because I know she is listening,
the first connection I finally make with the system and I
can easily break down but right now my job is to get the story
told right. Two uniformed deputies and a court reporter seem
to soak in my words and I can almost hear them swear thankfulness
to their gods that they are not me. In the end she grants my request
and I walk out of this old stone building with an order that tells him
not to come back. Tonight I lie back on the couch. All I see is me
and him the last time we pedaled bikes to Flood’s for beer and
wings. Eight stapled pages lie on my dresser to protect me.

A plainspoken poem tracing a parent’s response to a son grown dangerous. In its unadorned language we confront the empty protection offered by a court order against the emotional discord and very real fear that will probably last a lifetime. --Ned Balbo