Fourth grade frightened I carried a stick to the bus stop
and swung it like a mace,
stabbed the empty stomach
of an Asian chestnut
and topped that haft with spines.
Three towns over another backpacked child
had the ham-soft tip of his thumb snipped off
by a rabid raccoon.
They only come out in the day
if they’re sick. Weeks of gut-punch needle-pricks
or for one bright morning before the choke and the spit
and the frantic body strung to the air
with elastic bands, I could
walk brazen through sunlight
to piece apart the world in clever little hands.
Michael Pontacoloni’s work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Greensboro Review, Mississippi Review, Smartish Pace, New Ohio Review, minnesota review, and elsewhere. He has received awards and support from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the Vermont Studio Center. He lives in Hartford, where he works for a small software company.