A note from the author:
I have not written a single word about the pandemic during the pandemic, but, naturally, I have
thought a lot about death. And with that, comes thoughts about my father, who died when I was
three. I’ve also recently learned a poetry form called a golden shovel, which is similar to an
acrostic, but uses a full quote instead. I decided to write about my father. And what better way to
honor a father than with dad jokes?
“What do you call someone with no body and no nose? Nobody knows.”
you bequeath a daughter who will not remember you?
What does she call
you, if not someone
from a thirty-year-old longing? You leave her with
an endonym but no
identity. Your body
not dead enough, your lore not feather enough, and
she will grow up with no-
thing. Even her nose
is her mother’s. She will ask about you. But nobody
“It takes guts to be an organ donor.”
He was the kind of boulder it
a millennium of river to kill. His titanic guts
butted up against the to-
pography of sisters, and he would be
a pebble if they asked. Or an
izing two legacies of a donor.
“The graveyard looks overcrowded. People must be dying to get in.”
She spent the morning with elderly neighbors, while the
shook with mourners. After all, a three-year-old looks
suspicious when grandma imagines tiny black pockets overcrowded
with aggies, then scattered onto the funeral home floor. People
ering courage to approach the casket, crashing headfirst be-
tween the pews instead. Imagine! Little girl watches her daddy dying
but cannot witness him boxed and commemorated to
closure. At her age, she shouldn’t even know the word coffin.
“I don’t trust steps. They are always up to something.”
Not to sound skeptical / but I
am not sold / on this / heaven thing / Kids don’t
need clouds in their throat / to trust
the dirt crowding / their fathers’ mouths / Steps
1 and 2 are honesty / Step 3 is red herring / They
contradict / like the phrase / shallow grave / and are
clutched in little / beating fists / Nails always
digging / into peace / lily palms / up-
turned for God’s next fish story / To
placate / A widow offering / something.
“How many tickles does it take to make an octopus laugh? Ten tickles”
If you were here, if you had not collapsed at the kitchen table that day, I can’t tell you how
often I’d beg to make the bed with you. I’d even let you tuck your navy corners. The many
times I’d squeal – equal parts preparation and reckless giggle – for thick-fingered tickles,
like the cat in that YouTube video. Hands up, tummy exposed, a gleeful shrill that outdoes
the last. If weighed, my worship would be heavier than a Lincoln Town Car. If a lightbulb, it
would take a hundred God-fearing men to change me. If it were a dead parent, I would take
a child’s entire lifetime to decay. My worship does not underestimate itself. It knows how to
rescue the wake of a young summer, turn it blind into the oncoming tidal waves of a make-
able future. Ours. If you need further proof of my devotion, alive and kicking fiercely in an
ensuing childhood in which you did not leave, let me say you’d need the arms of an octopus
to hug me the way I’ve always wanted. And we could laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh
with our bellies until Mom looked at us like we were two unhinged Argonauts with a ten-
dacy to veer off path when tidying up the living room, losing ourselves in a war of tickles.
Lannie Stabile (she/her), a queer Detroiter, is the winner of OutWrite’s 2020 Chapbook Competition in Poetry; the winning chapbook, “Strange Furniture,” is out with Neon Hemlock Press. She is also a back-to-back finalist for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 Glass Chapbook Series and back-to-back semifinalist for the Button Poetry 2018 and 2019 Chapbook Contests. Lannie currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Barren Magazine and is a member of the MMPR Collective. She is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee.
You can follow Lannie on Twitter!
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