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Pushcart Prize Nominee

Michael Brockley

Trouble Ball

A friend once advised you to be satisfied with loneliness. With twenty-nine years of sleeping alone. With the lessons learned from eating from bowls of solitude. You live amid stacks of unread books. Amid shelves of CDs recorded by artists who die daily now as you tanglefoot your way into the middle of the seventh decade. All your companion dogs have passed on now, having nudged your hand with a dry nose for the last time. A ritual passed from Apollo, through Boz, Fibber and Logan, to Sadie, and Scooter, gone these last two years. For months, you haven’t spoken to anyone without paying for the conversation. Ordering a Cobb salad at Panera for $10.29, and a $5.51 peanut butter milkshake at The Barking Cow. A changeup from your usual Nutty Coconut and Triple Mango in an adult cup. Your ghost dog hasn’t visited your poems across these winter months, and now daffodils are thrusting through the March soil. On your walk this evening, the husky across from the school in the cul de sac arises from her porch for the first time. As you turn to retrace your steps, she braces herself as if you are trespassing where your shadow has become unwelcome. On your Runkeeper app, the steps of your route resemble a horseshoe open to the east. Sunset kaleidoscopes your vision. Until mirages prism beyond your reach, like gratitude. The husky paces the grass bordering her territory. Glaring like the baseball player who named his trouble pitches Bee Ball and Hesitation. You know better than to look back at what’s following you. 

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 200 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, including The Parliament Literary Journal, printed journal and anthologies.                            

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