1988: Suicide

All-American heroes in flames, my right hand a god
controlling the world’s freedom while my left hand presses
the knob of the aerosol bomb – Aqua Net in all its hot purple
splendor – slips, and Duke and Snake Eyes nearly collateral
damage to Voltar’s char-bubbled plastic skin. No miracle
will get our mother to buy another Voltar. He’s dead, she said.
Resurrection is imagination to innocence. We built the base
out of a tin can, walls raised from crayons, broken pencils:
a child’s revival. Inside, the paratrooper closes my mother’s
door, slowly, and gives us a once-over. He tells us how monkeys
threw shit at them when they landed in the jungle. We landed
in this shithole of a trailer after the drunk lost his house. Men
imagined themselves our father for three weeks at a time.
Not once did they resurrect my father, blown away
one October. We were tracing the topography of the states
of emotion. My sister says he walked himself into a hole
dug by prairie dogs – that they were evil fuckers and he tripped
on their drugs, sold everything in the house. Mother coasted
the back alleys of Oklahoma City, toward Ohio, when she flipped
the van as I swam in her belly. My sister says I should’ve been
retarded or dead. The white knight awoke from his methadone
slip up while Mother was on a morphine drip – doctors gave nine lives
to her pulp of leg. Like all fairy tales, the knight was trolled by trolls,
witches – the most damned spirits pulled him down the six years
he wanted to be Father. Too many times, he offered himself
to them like a buoy that doesn’t know if it’s the sea’s savior
or just a fated object struggling to survive impossible waters.
The day before his thirty-third birthday, he vanished
like Jesus. Like a rain drop in the river. We translated days
into years. Years into men. In ’92, a tornado brushed
the field, painted the harvest into a wheaten-skied Oz.
We followed the road; only, home was not a place
we understood. Perhaps that’s why my sister hates Dorothy.
If this version’s truth, my father is the heartless Lion. If he baptized
himself in the river, how can I forgive? I was cradled
by these men because Mother wanted to apologize to somebody
for her guilt – they wanted in her bedroom, so she told them
the secret to heroism was her children. They slipped
each time – like action figures unaware who really held the strings.

Christopher Ankney has been published in journals such as Copper Nickel, Prairie Schooner, The Los Angeles Review, and Fourteen Hills. His work has been nominated five times for a Pushcart. He lives with his wife in Annapolis, Maryland, where he teaches English and Creative Writing at Anne Arundel Community College.