ISSUE 6 FEATURE

WHEN MANNY THOMSON MADE GOOD ON A LOAN FROM MY FATHER
Michael McGriff

When the DEA arrived with the SWAT team.
    When they unloaded the convoy.
When they crossed the road and scattered
    down the Thomsons’ driveway.
When they moved in with purpose.
    When the sniper, 
when they kicked down the door,
    when they hogtied Lisa Thomson, 
when Children’s Services, when the kids, 
    when the cathedral
of Manny Thomson’s eyes
    clouded with blood, 
when he ran through the woods, 
    when the helicopter, 
when the K-9 unit, when the searchlight, 
    when impounded, when seized, 
when the shotgun booby-traps were disabled, 
    when three single-wides
and a barn full of drugs. When,
     on the third day, Manny Thomson
knocked on our kitchen window
     with his face split open
at three in the morning
    to return our lawn mower.
He had topped off the gas and the oil,
    he had sharpened the blade. 
When my father gave him a box
    of Federal waterfowl shells,
when my father said You dumb sonofabitch,
    when Manny said Canada, 
when my father said Adios.
    When Manny slept in a spillway, 
when Manny in the desert,
    when he cut open his last fig,
when he crawled inside it, 
    when the vulture drug him off,
when the vulture isn’t the god of anything, 
    when it rode the updrafts
 of frozen moonlight,
    when its nest of black glass, 
with its music of blood.

 
 Photo by David Newkirk

Photo by David Newkirk

Michael McGriff is the co-author, with J. M. Tyree, of the linked story collection Our Secret Life in the Movies (A Strange Object, 2014), one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014. His poetry collections include Home Burial (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), Dismantling the Hills (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008), and the forthcoming volume Early Hour. He is a former Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, and his work has been honored with a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.