“PAPA ALPHA X-RAY” by Ashley Bardhan

“Step one is to load.”

a tap on the shoulder tap water running brown
sex is more important than food
giggling in the creek naked
shoes off creaking wood floor
wet with sweaty longing cat
scattering mewling one two three

“Now you’re ready to aim.”

yeah I’m a man’s man
yeah i love america baby
i’m my mama’s boy see this lean body
or the violet splotches blooming under
the front porch crickets gurgling
i pull my cap backwards till i hear the clasp smack

“Go ahead and pull.”

curdled milk in a cup
sloppily poured then slapped
onto the counter next to the rusty faucet handle
my dad left us for the army then for
alcohol he left the bowl on the table
where i wash my fingers

“You look like your father when you shoot.”

mama farm life hurts i can’t
be here for much longer feet
calloused browning thorned
and puckered tired of drinking the same bottle
of vodka all it would take is bang bang
bang and I’d be gone forever



Ashley Bardhan is a culture journalist based in New York. She writes for Pitchfork, Bandcamp, and lots of other places. 

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