James Dunlap

A Fable

in the beginning there was a boy and there was a field
in the field the boy shot blackbirds just to see them fall
the boy passed summer bird to bird burr-covered and dizzy
his chigger-bitten legs dangling up in the cracked open sky
and his only friends were a boy with butter-colored hair
that smelled like rain and horses and an old dog so mangy
he looked like an armadillo no one else knew the boy
one day the boy’s daddy prayed a shotgun slug into his mouth
and he sat smoldering in the field for two days like a haybale
because the body only knows its own dark appointments
because it wasn’t enough to be scared there had to be blood
because the boy thought maybe jesus hated his father too
and now his shattered skull has made for him a strange crown

James Dunlap is an Arkansas poet. He studied creative writing at University of Arkansas and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in storySouth, Nashville Review, Minnesota Review, and Copper Nickel.