Distance from the Slaughterhouse
by Austin Kodra
We lived somewhere deep in the scorch—
only town for miles sprung from cracked clay,
split by a two-lane capillary,
a dried-blood highway leading
in from the desert, out to the desert.
Each Thursday for four years we ate
at the roadhouse edged with needled bushes
and rock gardens. Like Friday but without the crowd,
my father would say, and we’d stick to our shadows
at a corner table under mosaic light.
Each week, he ordered baby-back ribs
laid out in a glistening arch
beside mashed potatoes and coleslaw.
He stuffed the bib with a cartoon pig
down his collar, called for extra sauce.
Sucked meat off the bones
like he was playing a harmonica.
Leaned back, whistled, joked—
Should have worn a looser pair of pants.
We were close and happy and never thought
about the distance from the skinned and bled
slabs hanging slack from hooks, like winter coats
turned inside out and slung up on racks.
Instead we’d ride home silent,
cradling the lions of our stomachs.
I’d press my face to the glass,
not knowing then that somewhere far away
the moon was a bolt stunner
or a curved blade bleeding light from black.
About Austin Kodra
Austin Kodra received his MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Still: The Journal, Mason’s Road, Barnstorm, Prime Number Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his family.