Summers, in the eaves
of the front porch of the house
I grew up calling home, hornets nested.
Even after my parents divorced, friends’
parents kept them a safe distance away.
I was what sweeter neighbors called odd.
Early every June, ex-Marine Herman
from next door would light up the swarms
and their new nest with a gallon or two
of kerosene, but I still always managed
to get stung. I was so fortunate.
I never once caught fire.
There were more bars
than churches, more churches
than cemeteries, more cemeteries
than banks, and a farm or two.
Coal and limestone built the town.
Everyone in their way
was a miner.
Even the one-armed butcher
with his name above the door.
He served shaved meat sandwiches
by day, sold ground beef to the poor.
At night he drank from a bone cup.
Brian Beatty’s jokes, poems, reviews and short stories have appeared in numerous print and online publications. His writing has also been featured in public art projects and on public radio. A native of Brazil, Indiana, Brian now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.