i'm loving it

before my brother became good again
we'd drop him off at the mcdonald's
parking lot as a family—mother chiding
the wide leg of his jeans—father,
at the smoke loitering between his fingers
waiting to rise. each time he left the car
my brother died. each time he came home
he was born again. i'd watch him climb
the guardrail steps into the arms of boys
who might be gods in black t.shirts
and ball caps. who are all mostly gone
now in uniforms, in dead jobs stocking
soda bottles, in plots of dirt. i wanted
so badly to be the smoke that held them
there. to linger on one boy's collar, to be
pulled hot into another's mouth, to hang
about my brother how a lantern rages
in the trees. but instead i'd turn to watch
him grow smaller, pulled into something
larger and crueler than himself. some nights
he'd come home with bruises in the shape
of tire factories burning. other nights
cigarette craters climbing up his arm.
if i were the smoke i would have sucked
myself back into the tobacco, laid
my wet leaf over his hurt. but i was
nothing worth the air, a voice pitched
high in the trash fire, a body that is
a shadow, taking on what ever strange
smiling shape my brother decides
to make of himself.

Sam Sax is an MFA candidate at UT Austin's Michener MFA program. He co-curates The New Sh!t Show, was the first ever Bay Area Unified Grand Slam Champion, and two time Oakland Grand Slam Champion. He's recently had poems published in Rattle, The Evergreen Review, Anti-, Pank, Muzzle, and other journals (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761