Recording of a Backyard in Winter
like a dog unleashed from a pinstriped stake in the yard always begin with beginning and end with something wise if you have any wisdom to spare you spare tire muckraker listen I can call you what I want this is my weird little planet see it’s got my name at the top I practiced my signature for weeks just so I could sign this tax document and feed it to my dog who is eloping in circles around my shack in which I winter and underline the titles of things well your title is king in your universe but here we are all artists and I name you my secretary so get to work I haven’t done my taxes in twenty years you see I’ve run out of ink so you’ll need to underline for me while I run and get some more don’t mind the dog she’s very friendly when she’s chained up freedom is whatever terribleness we allow ourselves to do see there’s some wisdom write that down print that out you’ll need to forge my signature I know you know how all kings have to forge their own armor it’s tradition it’s a dog without a name biting strangers and choking on crabgrass it’s a shame that your name is Dog King Dog if we’re being formal it’s wise to use the formal forms of nouns when speaking to a king but you’re no king so in this shack where I icefish and underline your name is Mr. Dog my secretary and very fine typist who does whatever I say the good thing is I’m a kind king I’m a spare change giver I’ll give away my fortune and live in a shack it’s what’s best for my country the state the dog is an arm of the state and protector of the crabgrass you see protection means you choke on something and that’s called populism forgive me I’m getting political again it’s a shame I’ve given away all my nickels but I’ll pay you a hefty salary for your labor for your underlining and tax forms will you please call my mother call my father the phone stopped working last month I haven’t paid taxes or bills or rent if the debt collectors come the shotgun is right next to the phone don’t kill anyone but you’re a king you’re the king of intimidation if you go down in a dogfight it’ll be with the dog her teeth are knives and I sharpen them nightly I mean listen your mouth is bigger than the average mouth which is a sign of royalty and loyalism the interview is almost over I only have one question have you ever forged a crown out of crabgrass and fished ice with a bouquet of arrows yes I know yes I yes you have something to say I hope it’s something wise we’ve nearly reached the end and the dog is dead and the debtors are shuffling across the ice fields fill out this form forge my signature I’ll fish out some ink and bullets for the war yes the war I hope you’re ready it’s already beginning
Brad Trumpfheller is an undergraduate student at Emerson College. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming from The Nation, Colorado Review, West Branch, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. They are the internship director for Winter Tangerine.