Portrait of a Small Town with Safe Search Disabled

by Eli Karren

N.B. We recommend mobile viewing in landscape.

if not for the leaving                     I probably would have been devoured
the football team low on venison                    boil the class president

and eat her ass first                    somehow ceremoniously so
a rotisserie in the gazebo                    a slow cooker in the Hannafords

parking lot                    this is what Shirley warned us about
my neighborhood drunk                    and snowmobiling in the summer

his high beam cutting down trees                    tossing his wife
head first at the wall                    once I watched him mime kicking a dog

and probably laughed                    we drank water from the same well
where a doe had crumpled years before                    it was too late

at what point do I stop looking back                    wishing I’d known better?
will I stop getting surprised                    by how little this matches

the brochures                    my neighborhood once told us he could get us
into the KKK                                            make us card carrying members

I still want to believe it was a joke                    that the foliage didn’t lose
all of its color                    right there and then                    that the streams

didn’t roll up like carpets and hang themselves back on the wall


Eli Karren’s “Portrait of a Small Town with Safe Search Disabled”
appears in Flock 23.

Eli Karren is a storyteller, poet, and fourth grade teacher residing in Austin, Texas. He was the 2017 recipient of the Benjamin C. Wainwright Poetry Prize and his works can be found in Geometry, Vantage Point, and the Redlands Review. He also has work forthcoming in Turn It Up: Music and Poetry from Jazz to Hip Hop.