the year after your father dies (and other poems)

the year after your father dies

they said expect numbness and i thought it’d feel like being drunk
instead it felt the other way—precarious as the waltz of sobriety
not like driving the street where your old house was
rather walking through woods where no home will ever be
sometimes it’s the key cut for a lock you can’t remember
sometimes it’s the old claw-hammer held together by tape
most nights it’s a three-legged dog running home through the rain 
and here you thought you could name this

when I was a child I threw rocks at the moon

i get lost sometimes in your metaphors
what do a shepherd and a king have in common
other than you always come out large 
and i always come out small
this offends some but not me
i was born in a small place 
i grew up among small people
i have desires so small no one else can see them
here is one that only the holy ghost knows
when i was a child 
there was a field behind my house
nights i would stand in it and throw rocks at the moon
i had asked my mother where god lives
she had said up there and pointed to the sky
which meant the sky was just a window
between his house and mine
and to get him to come outside
someone had to break the darkened glass
everything but also nothing has changed since then
i went by that field the other day
the creek was dried up and the house was gone 
little piles of rocks still covered the ground  
like old abandoned fires


  • Daniel Leach has published poetry and fiction with Copper Nickel, The Greensboro Review, and storySouth. He holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College. He lives in the low country of South Carolina with his wife and four kids.

  • This series of photographs is from Physical Training for Business Men by American author Harrie Irving Hancock. The 1919 book's premise is that a certain quality of physical presence, "impressive carriage and appearance", are essential to "those who would succeed in the business world". The photos were taken by a "Mr Phelan" (who worked with Hancock on a number of other exercise books); the models are unnamed. (Abridged from The Public Domain Review.)