Nathaniel Sverlow

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father at the impasse

one evening
my father said to me
“you shouldn’t marry her.
she’s too fat.
she’ll have health problems.
and, when she gets older,
you’ll have to
take care of her.”

“that’s alright with me.”
I said.
“I love her.”

now we’re married
with child
and I haven’t seen
or spoken to my father
in five years

my brother told me
he doesn’t eat
he just lays on the couch
watching television
and drinking tequila

and he often cries
about his loneliness
his isolation
and blames our mother
for turning us
against him

I’ll just say,
there’s a an old wireless phone
on the coffee table
that could dial out
but will never dial out

and my wife
couldn’t be happier

what do you want?

why is the Christmas tree still up? It’s January 3rd

I don’t know. I like the color it brings to the living room,
and have you ever walked out in the middle of the night
and seen it glow? It’s beautiful

It’s a pipe cleaner. A half-ass attempt at clichĂ© holiday merriment.
And look at that, the tree skirt’s bunched up,
the cats have taken half the ornaments

A pipe cleaner, huh?

Yes, a pipe cleaner.

If you feel that way about it, then take it down.

Are you sure?

Yeah, it obviously stresses you out. So go ahead.
Take the damn thing down…
What? What is it?

Now I’m not so sure.

What? Why?

You seem angry.

I’m not angry.

You seem attached to it.

I’m not attached. I just like the lights.
We can always get more lights.

Okay then.

And, Alex is too young to understand anyway.
I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.

You see? Right there.


Right there.


I’m not touching it now.


You know why.

I don’t understand.

I’m hungry. What do you want to do for dinner?

What’s in the fridge?

Nothing’s in the fridge. Unless you’re happy with eggs and toast.


Then what do you want?


Nathaniel Sverlow is a freelance writer of poetry and prose. He was born in 1983 in San Diego, California and has since spent most of his time hunched over a laptop randomly pressing keys. He currently resides in the Sacramento area with three cats, one incredibly supportive wife, and a newborn son. His previous publishing credits include Typehouse Literary Magazine, Map Literary, Ricky’s Backyard, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Literary Orphans, Squawk Back, and Bone Parade.