tough guy in moonlight

in 7th grade he sat

last row last seat

head on desk asleep Sister

Cleopha slapped

his ear he laughed her face red


trembling on the playground no one

looked him in the eye afraid

to wake his hands

two furious stones tearing

holes in God’s light


seven years later I poured

drinks in a seaside bar I’d learned

to know a little

about a lot

could talk to the toughest guy who’d

be in the Series where

to find parts for a ’63

Impala how

he knocked that motheringfucking

bartender from down the street flat

out I gave him free drinks

to cool

the bad drunks


now he leans

on a thick

stick worn

smooth by broken

hand & muscled

weight the woman the nuns

warned 7th grade

girls they’d become if

they danced with the tough guy holds

his empty hand full

moon sways

him to her



street preacher

when I close my eyes I hear

the father’s voice not

his son’s as he cautiously becomes

man not

the spirit’s tongue

of feathers & fire I hear

continents grind

time’s big drum the voice of no

not what could or should not

being’s eternal quarrel

but when I speak a starling


with its own



I know

one day I’ll open

my eyes see

his voice a pillar

of sound my breath

braids around & you

will stop & you

you & you

will listen


Frank Rossini


Frank Rossini has been published in various magazines including Poetry Now, The Seattle Review, and Wisconsin Review.

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