CL Bledsoe

Raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of thirty books, including his newest poetry collection, The Bottle Episode, and his latest novel The Saviors. Bledsoe co-writes the humor blog How to Even, with Michael Gushue: Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.

Mother, Father, Son, Daughter

The devil’s biggest problems are lack
of dopamine. Nose-blindness. Not
existing. One expects time to pass,
some progression to be revealed,
not this dog-trying-to-stand-in-a-
pickup thing we’ve got going on.
First, there was the mother. Then,
the father, trying to erase the memory
of the light from her eyes, soothing
fingertips on fevered brow. Finally,
the son who forgot his keys and had
to run back home for them. It probably
all has to do with prisms because I 
was absent that day. There are people
who spell out their pettiness onto signs
and stand outside places to try to 
intimidate others. There are people 
who walk into schools with automatic
weapons and open fire. There are
people who sit in pews one day a week
and think that’s enough to make them
people. It wasn’t that long ago a person
could be murdered for asking questions.
Even still, questions are met more
often with shame than considerations 
of where the answer might come from,
and who. The son – it’s his age, remember –
thinks crystals will save him or maybe
just yelling at the wall until it feels
punched. There’s a fourth age no one
seems to have considered: the daughter.

The Enemy of My Enemy Is Probably Also My Enemy, Just Without a Goatee. 

For example, no man can wear beige 
and remember the taste of the sun. Look, 
Jim, just because you went to private 

school doesn’t excuse you from a responsibility 
to understand physics. It doesn’t matter how 
good you look in lacrosse shorts when they 

come to reclaim the fields. Sweat soured 
on skin like a father’s gaze. A bell that never 
stops ringing. I want to laugh like we used 

to, talking shit about the pines. Maybe 
you’re right, Jim. Maybe there’s nothing 
but quiet cars. The flimsy logic of regret.

There’s a certain way of forgetting 
that happens every night when you try 
to catalogue what remains. It has to do 

with never going into the kitchen, 
which is the best way of keeping 
the floor clean. 

Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn’t end,

after a line by Christopher Fullerton

It’s hard to describe the weather when
the sunset keeps salivating behind your back. 
A type of rodent that sheds its fur and learns
to yodel has some interesting things to say about
predetermination and your mother. The only 
difference between a sunset and sunrise
is a handful of letters and several hours. Also,
you can’t see after one and you don’t want to
after the other. A certain amount of filler allowed
in each heart. A certain amount of negotiation 
before each separation. There are certain species 
of flies that are born and die in a single day. I bet 
some of them begrudge it taking so long. 

Doing the Work


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