Friend of the Family Tyler Sheldon

Hazy, Barbara wonders
at our faces, the bonfire
built by other hands.
Blackcats burst
onto bricks. Mississippi,
January, unseasonably cold.
We light fireworks
that smoke in dry grass.

Barbara says she’s sorry
for her drunkenness.
At our “It’s alright,”
she spits, “I ain’t talkin’ to you,”
then says again
“I’m sorry.”

Barbara caroms to the kitchen
for alcohol, cusses us, spews beer.
Barbara, we say. We’re sorry
you’re drunk, too.

Later she stumbles
to the fire, face bloody.
We tell her we’re leaving,
get in cars, ease down the street.
In the rearview, Barbara sits,
banks the fire.

BEFORE THE RAZOR button ver 2

Tyler Sheldon earned his MA in English from Emporia State University, where he taught Composition and received the 2016 Charles E. Walton Graduate Essay Award. His poems and reviews have appeared in Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, I-70 Review, Flint Hills Review, Quiddity International Literary Journal, and other journals. His first chapbook, First Breaths of Arrival, was published this May by Oil Hill Press. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing at McNeese State University.