Robert Joe Stout

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Playing a Board Game With My Mother
the Week Before Her Eightieth Birthday

Dice clattered directions
Six! Three! As she clapped
I clapped with her,
a boy-turning-man
flicking the limbs of low orange trees
as we walked together to the moviehouse
to watch Haver or Goddard or Keel
on the small, square screen.

My move. The marker slipped from my grasp
and her laughter converged
into a mirror that lifted us
past the roll of chance
onto a sidewalk
where mother and son
shared odd moments of tenuous peace.

Truck Stop, Medford, Oregon

Between the on-ramp and the restaurant
with its revolving neon COFFEE - STEAKS
a slender girl in faded jeans climbed ice plant
to a clump of oak and slowly, artlessly,
undressed. A trucker stopped. Two tourists fit
their Canon XT-3 on tripod, shot,
argued, shot. A waitress closed the plastic
blinds, blushed when a salesman she had fucked
called her a prude. Does she need help? I asked
my wife. We all need help she said beneath her breath
and touched my hand. I nodded, watched
the girl watch those who stared at her, her middle
fingers giving all an eloquent salute.


Robert Joe Stout’s books Kill the Teachers and Mexico's Bloody Repression of Human Rights are now available from Amazon.