Poetry: "Lightning Rod" & “Bobo Escobar Eats Turtle Soup While Teaching His Children the Quadratic"

Lightning Rod

My sister is lightning rod. She detects electricity in the atmosphere

before blue-white bolts strike in her neighborhood. Might be a curse

of some kind. Her leg tingles with sour current,

she, pushing up from the sofa, her bed, flinching and biting her teeth

as if it’s the first time. This will never go away. It might get worse

and she will have to bite down on a nail.

She’s suffered all her life, not a martyr, not the results of the theory

of self-fulfilling prophecy, not that it all happened at once, not that

she hasn’t learned how to count backwards.

She closes her eyes on the interstate, peeking to see if her future

will materialize on the back of an 18-wheeler. Her entire life

is sparks, flirting so closely to smoke and fire.

Bobo Escobar Eats Turtle Soup While Teaching His Children the Quadratic Equation

Never eat turtle soup from a trashed ice cream carton.

Never eat turtle soup at all. Move your face toward

the spoon then lift it up into the sky like a jet on take-off.

Pour it into the toilet and flush it away from your house.

BUT if you are stuck inside with your children for months

on end, you must get food – something – into their mouths.

It is fine, then, to open cans of turtle soup and have a science

lesson on the spot. Ask questions such as Where did the turtles

live? What variety? & who first decided that turtle soup would

be something acceptable to eat? How many turtles does it take

to fill up one can? Can turtles harbor parasites? Is it necessary

to add cognac and if so, should children be allowed to consume

it? His oldest struggles with advanced word problems, so as the

younger ones paint turtles on the kitchen walls, Bobo deactivates

a significant portion of his brain cells, showing how to solve

problems with the quadratic equation. It is painful, reminiscent

of the day he asked Mrs. Marshal when he’d ever need to know

this stuff. You will, she promised. No one ate the turtle soup

that day. Bobo Escobar drank the cognac and everyone lay down

for an afternoon nap.

John Dorroh has never fallen into an active volcano, nor has he ever captured a hummingbird. But he did make bread with Austrian monks and drank much of their beer. Currently, he dreams of the day when he can travel safely. Two of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net. Others have appeared in Feral, Tidal, Burningword, and Mono.