Two Poems by Austin Beaton

small town outside of (sibling)

How bay leaf bends itself
under boiled water; Mom stirs
in October. This here always
where she’s born, fathoms
the taste of quiet waking
again, unhinging rusting
sacrum out bed. If not nine
in this memory I’ll have left
for good, after adolescence
ferried me what I needed
she didn’t know she didn’t
know to give. I color, tell fib
when Lewis & Clark slept
Sacajawea slipped out tent,
tiptoed to stare the Pacific
away from dreaming men.
Is it gonna thunder? I ask.
No, buddy, she says. How
do you know? How do you
know if purple is peace or
purple a thunderhead, since
chain link zodiac arrives from
the past can adults stargaze
beyond what’s then? He guts
in the garage what he caught:
smell of fish & him. Unfolded
carcass like a suitcase, he points
to the innards, names them like
statistics (belly of salmon eggs
take fluorescent like seeds of
a pomegranate, the last beer can
drank (saved / hid in the closet)).
Some year I say, you scare me.
My mouth hatchets inside my
father: inside him: some human.
I don’t want you to be afraid
he cries, scrunching to a face
not his. He leaves to do what
fathers do. Where do they go?
Does it feel like cheating?
Will they hear our youth march
till we unlearn our youth? Mom
in the kitchen bent like a question
mark, scrubbing a clean sink.


Didn’t See Dad

learn electric guitar or rough finger
ukulele waiting Greyhound station
like some Momma to twins
near Christmas. Can’t see
parenting through history’s
drywall privacy, Grandpa drumstick
a Dad sternum
when the keys locked
under floor mat family Buick.
Never view Papa kiss more
than twice nor with tongue
as it maybe matters, as is
male eye a funny thing,
marble thing copper wired
to electric brain: rusty machine
launching trauma light cinema
from whatever’s damaged
on the y chromosome.
Best luck translate from silence
advice unheard
a synonym to beware, how he
timber fell under eyelids
alternate selves, kaleidoscope
variation different hopes
slide-projecting how it could’ve
happened. How accurate titles
that delete us? Syllables
innocent—alcoholic narcissist,
consonants eyeless as he liquors
himself like Greek actor
fought, offstage in any truck,
away from the crowd
convinced to stay—
peons paid entrance
fear to watch the violence
but only hearing it next scene’s
apology. Blind to his practicing
in the mirror before announcing
ten years sobriety
or him choose / unchoose
to drink Folger’s,
pretend to be Ward Cleaver,
eat crescents out the cookies
we’d left for Santa, teeth
proof he was there / not /
sleeping in his own bed
(Mom awake in hers)
(me dreaming men
give gifts 1 night a year).


Austin Beaton studied Spanish at the University of Oregon, where he was a finalist for the Walter and Nancy Kidd Memorial Writing Competition in Poetry. His work has appeared in Boston Accent, Peach Mag, The Stay Project, (b)OINK, Porridge Magazine, Voicemail Poems, Anti-Heroin Chic and is forthcoming in Oxidant Engine and the Angel City Review. He lives near the ocean in San Luis Obispo, California where he swallows figs and gives nicknames.

Featured Image by Robbie Masso. Find him on Facebook, instagram, and his website.

Submit to Punch Drunk Press.


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