Boy Gone Rogue


…and His kingdom will have no end.
        from Luke 1:33
At the diner, that’s been victimized twice by kitchen fire,

the boy sits at one of the sea-green booths across from his father

who, between a second and third cup of coffee, has said

My doctor gives me a year to live and we will trust in God.


Of hope, the boy’s father always spoke of a path, its difficulty in keeping,

the reward at the end—God’s warm laugh and a hug.


Thistle cuts the boy’s legs on the path leading

to a forest kept behind his eyes, where God is tied to a tree, his skin

bruised and broken by the teeth of other boys who went out in his name.


When the moon smudges its big finger across God’s cheek, the boy sees

the mythic creature’s eyes grown fiery and asks after all the days I’ve returned

to this place, and have not seen something different, is this the day I will see you be terrible?


How did the boy arrive at this unnamable place? It’s been easier to assess

how difficult to leave. And so, the boy prays:


                    Heavenly Father,

I am becoming fatherless. And I’ve developed new hunger, Lord. I’ve learned

to wash your feet in the years that a ravenous tooth can be more salvation

than light. I will become lost and look to feed on your hands as I’ve been taught.

And yet, you will call me lamb, not boy with fangs, not boy with wolf posture,

but lamb—boy living among the real wolves. Those words for the ransomed

heart. And Lord, while your red words aim to make strong a foundation,

I’ve found the roots of another kingdom, where I will go hungry,

and will always search for a meal in your sleeping bones.  O boy, you’d say

o boy, I couldn’t fill you up. Here, boy, is my rib cage to be locked up in.


And in that way, God kept the boy from his questions. But boy learned

the broken language needed to say, you saw this coming, Lord.


Aaron Reeder writes from Albuquerque and holds an MFA in Poetry from University of New Mexico. He is a recipient of the Rudolfo Anaya Fellowship, and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Washington Square Review, Superstition Review, Literary Orphans, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Apeiron Review, Kudzu House Quarterly, Bitter Oleander, Black Tongue Review, The Great American Literary Magazine, and others. He is the author of the chapbook, DAWN (Orange Monkey Publishing, 2015).