Animal Lisa’s Guide to Getting Sober

Write it down & pretend
it is fiction. Read it
to a campfire from a safe distance

like my father
the urban legend
last seen on a night

much like this
as a kerosene soaked match
humming against an oil drum

beating my mother with his skull
because matches got no hands
to strike, asking strangers

for a light, & even though he lost
his sobriety coin in a bet,
it appears beneath my pillow

alongside the dead gold tooth
he wrenched out himself
& pawned for petty cash

but it wasn’t enough.
The street magicians
transformed my father

from solid to liquid
with a shovel to the head
& even though the worst days begin

like this, dark as a dead refrigerator
at the end of the world,

heaven still shines down toothless
if you believe in that sort of thing.





S.Marie LaFata-Clay is a PhD student at Western Michigan University, where she teaches creative writing and serves as the chief editor of Third Coast. She is the winner of the 2016 Herb Scott award for excellence in poetry and the author of Strange Couple from the Land of Dot and Line (Orange Monkey Publishing, 2014). Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in The Journal, The Adroit, Puerto Del Sol, Tupelo Quarterly, Juked, Phoebe, Eleven Eleven, Drunken Boat, and others.

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