Apollo drinks at the pub with his mates while his son takes the Chevy for a joyride

after Ovid

Maybe I don’t give the lad enough credit. My burdens

are his, until they aren’t, and after all, who am I

to tether him to these pastures? Maybe I should get

one more pint, maybe I should call him, ask him

to come pick me up. We can grab a six pack

and bond a little, down in the woolshed, away

from the old lady. I’ve seen the way he handles

that clutch. The boy is as eager as he is young.

Restless like a spooked horse, dumb like the fence posts

that line these paper roads When he was a child,

he would stand alone in the frost paddocks

and stare into the sun until his eyes bled pink. He refused

to blink, while he memorized the constellations. He told me

that one day he would ride amongst them. I slapped

the back of his head, handed him a shovel and told him

to get back to work. Have I been fair to him? Yes.

Harsh? Who’s to say? Isn’t a boy just a man waiting

for his time to shine and how can anyone ignite

without conquering a surrounding dullness and what

brings you down here so late on a Friday

anyway, officer? Has something happened?

Close up of author in black t-shirt standing in front of a harbour.

Jordan Hamel is an Aotearoa New Zealand writer and performer. He is currently at the University of Michigan on a Fulbright Scholarship. His debut poetry collection Everyone is Everyone Except You, was published in New Zealand by Dead Bird Books in 2022 and will be published by Broken Sleep in the UK in 2024. He is also the co-editor of No Other Place to Stand, an anthology of NZ and Pacific climate change poetry from Auckland University Press (2022). He is the winner of the 2023 Sonora Review Poetry Competition, judged by Maggie Smith and the 2023 New Writers UK Poetry Prize. He was the runner-up in the 2023 American Literary Review Poetry Contest. Recent work can be found or is forthcoming in POETRY, Adroit, Sonora Review, American Literary Review, New Delta Review and Gulf Coast. (Photo credit: Ebony Lamb)