“I called because of the tornados.
I was worried about your power
cutting out and you unable to breathe.”
Everything’s fine, my mother says. Except
I shat myself today. I can’t believe it.
“Well, if a tornado were screaming toward me
I’d shit myself too.” Which makes
her laugh and lose her breath.
Too much of medicine X. Thank god
I can still get into the shower by myself!
But now I’ve got a shitty bathtub,
towels, shitty laundry. “You already
had a shitty disposition,” I say.
“Now you’ve got everything to match.”
Again, that crackling, staticky laughter,
as if we were passing under a bridge,
driving through a tunnel, her air
turning to cellophane. I can’t wait
until you come down here again,
she cracks. I need to punch you.
“Soon, soon,” I say. The sky’s as black
as night right now in middle of the afternoon.
“You’re shitting me.” I shit you not. “That’s shitty.”
Pretty shitty, she says, in fact. A real shit storm.
Jeff Oaks’ newest chapbook, Mistakes with Strangers, will be published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2014. A recipient of three Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowships, Jeff Oaks has published poems in a number of literary magazines, most recently in Fourth River, Prairie Schooner, RHINO, FIELD, and Mead. His essays have appeared in At Length, My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them, and in Creative Nonfiction. He teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh.