Father in the Basement with a Rope
No one found him faceless in a loft
or bled out in a rented tub; not drowned,
not broken underneath a city bridge.
There were no empty bottles on a soft
vanilla pillowcase. Nor had he downed
a single pill; no note taped to the fridge.
We’d never find his wallet. All the smoke
came from a cigarette, his first or a mirage.
He left it burning on the basement floor
and opted for the harder way to choke.
He couldn’t fit a car in the garage,
perhaps. He wouldn’t tape the kitchen door
and risk a huge explosion, which would kill
us all. He might have killed us all. But, still . . .
Rick Mullin is a poet, painter, and journalist. His work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Measure, Epiphany, American Arts Quarterly, Raintown Review, The New Criterion, and Rabbit Ears: TV Poems. He has six books of poetry and two chapbooks, including the book-length poems Soutine, on the life of the painter Chaim Soutine (Dos Madres Press, 2012), and Huncke, an epic romp through American cultural history built around a memorial event for the Beat poetry hero Herbert Huncke (7 Tower Press, 2010). His collection Lullaby and Wheel is forthcoming from the White Violet Press imprint of Kelsay Books.