I didn’t have two dwarves to kill me I had two older brothers,
one who dropped a brick on my head as I stood under our tree house
covering me with blood, knocking me into not waking for a week –
dancing along the dark edges of death’s terra firma. I learned early about mortality
& not to mix blood & honey & drink it, but to squirt ketchup on everything
I ate, so my three older brothers wouldn’t steal my food at meal time.
The three of us fought for portions like hyenas at a fresh kill, and I wasn’t thinking
about poetics as a baby brother, just simply surviving – always leery which fist,
baseball bat or golf club would be swung at me as I ran around the edges of our house.
It would be years before I could reflect & actually write trying to understand
my constant fear of the dark. Who would be breaking into my room when I slept.
How the two of them dragged me into the furnace room telling me it was hell.
Persephone wasn’t there and I wasn’t looking for her or Tartarus or Erebus.
I didn’t know who or what any of them were. The divide between being closed in
by a locked door and not being able to escape defined my terror.
Being locked up and surrounded by that heat I would scream for them to let me out.
Every time the furnace kicked on I thought I saw the glowing eyes of Cerberus leaping
at me with its dragon tail, dragging me further into where I would enter, but never return.
Bill Garten has published poetry in Rattle, Interim, Asheville Poetry Review, California State Poetry Quarterly, Portland Review, Wisconsin Review, Antietam Review, The Comstock Review, The Chaffey Review, Hawaii Review, Portland Review, The Main Street Rag, Poet Lore and others. A graduate student in the MFA Program at Ashland University, Bill also has been anthologized in Wild Sweet Notes; And Now The Magpie; and What The Mountains Yield.