Taking aim one-eyed while the other stays
shut, I peer between twin prongs of a borrowed
slingshot and think their crux makes a peace sign.
The elastic violence begins as I stretch the band
of rubber tubing to behind my right ear, a stone
missile hugged in a leather pouch, pinched between
a trinity of fingers. I stand at the core of potential energy,
after-school at age twelve, feet crunching leaves unsure of
this is going to end. Some days we gather ammo, the iron ore
that fall from coke cars piled high and headed down to the ovens.
scatter between the heavy gray railroad stones. One day the dads
get laid off
and industry begins to go away slowly. Abandoned rails and mills,
pulled up deep-rooted weeds. A town's decay that begins like the
of the wounded, then stiffens with rigor beneath the skin. I let that
-- Fred Shaw
Fred Shaw received his BA in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh and an MFA in poetry from Carlow University. His work has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and in the online literary magazine, Shaking Like a Mountain. His manuscript is entitled Anger Cuisine. He is an adjunct professor in the English department at Carlow University and lives in Ross Township with his wife and dog. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Tuesday at 7 p.m. on independent radio, WYEP 91.3 FM.