Issue #3 // Benediction for the men who hurt us part one // Zeke Russell

I woke up this morning,
the dirt from my mother’s sunflowers
still under my thumbnail.
Haven’t dug there in three months.

Yesterday I thought my hands were clean.

Pulling up weeds is the work
that makes the sweet corn sweet.
Need to make sure
to shake the dirt off the roots,
so you leave the garden
in the garden.

I did that in dirty July.
This morning
my hands,
which should have been
first weekend of September clean,
held that soft brown
under the white of the nail.

If I left before coffee,
I could be in that garden
by noon,
could scrape my hands clean
and return the soil
to its home.

Instead I will fry up yesterday’s bread
yellow egg thick,
in two weeks worth of butter
and splash them in my milk.

I will pass a hard
carbon blade
under the extremity of my left thumb
and suck clean
whatever is under there.


Zeke Russell grew up in Central Maine surrounded by artists and lumberjacks. Since then he’s been a cook, a teacher, a security guard and a social worker. He lives in South Boston with his partner Emily and PJ,the world’s worst behaved pug dog. He does his best to try to end homelessness, writes poems, and usually needs a haircut.


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