Two Poems by Douglas Manuel

Douglas Manuel

Douglas Manuel

Douglas Manuel was born in Anderson, Indiana. He is currently a Middleton and Dornsife Fellow at the University of Southern California where he is pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in RhinoNorth American Review, The Chattahoochee Review, New Orleans Review, Crab Creek Review, Many Mountains Moving and elsewhere. His first full length collection of poems, Testify, will be released by Red Hen Press in the spring of 2017.

Whose Little Boy Are You?

Too ornery to die, 
                              while he coded blue, 
my father saw us 
arrive by helicopter,
my lover and me walking
on the hospital lawn.

Y’all looked just like the Obamas, except for Kay

being white, he said.
Before chest-shock rocked

his body back, he talked
to his mother, grandmother,
and my mother.
                          Call it
the Yalta Conference.
Peace made. Demarcations
drawn. I thought he’d be different.

Doctor said his brain
sat without oxygen
for a long time. I know
I was the one y’all asked about pulling the cord.

He doesn’t remember dying,
only dreaming. How kind
of the body, I thought,

and wondered if that’s the way
it always goes.



Little Fires Left by Travelers

The smoldering stops
me. I see my father in knee-deep

           Wet white sticks
to the blade. In Grandpa’s snowsuit
dad is blue flame. Come
summer he’ll be nude
under his overalls, yes, no

drawers, letting it hang and swang,
straight raw. Newport shaking
its red cherry. Smoke trailing
             something kind of like
the sparklers I used to write
my name with
                        on the Fourth
of July, something not unlike

lightning bugs fighting night
with the shine of their asses.
Dad’s shotgun bucking:
all strobe and flash.
                               Can I get
a James Brown scream? Father’s
legless, not Godless, charms the Lord
with his tongue, reads the red
words of Christ when I go.