Joel Chace

Certain Men (11/9/2016)


He stares out a wine-bottle window. During the interview,

he blurted right out that he impersonates priests. After the silence,

he shrugged, so the very next question was “What does ‘and eat it too’

even mean?” More and more keeps cramming into that same corner.

Nonetheless, distractions do rise up: long stretch of yards behind

new townhouses; fog-hats on all the harbor buoys.

Rehearsing holy gestures in a mirror exhausts him; ditto, expressions

of awe, sighs. Refrain has two meanings. Everyone’s gotta be

somewhere. Such as a local Downs: trotters; sulkies; having bet,

people leaning over the rail — always at least one

four hundred pounder, his self flowing out all over size 80

basketball shorts; and God-gaunt couples, their eyes ablaze.


He’s forgotten more about the soul than we’ve ever known.

Once the sun stands still in the sky, the issue of mission creep

will become moot. Sentence has two meanings. Each time parking,

he just sits for a long, good while. Remembering mother and

grandmother weeping as the great diseased elms were taken down.

Equations imply that anyone you meet’s your cousin;

Genesis doesn’t take as clear a stance. Eyes: shut. Breaths:

steady; deep. Stump-fires flare darkness in the lower flats. Until…

Until he...Knees open the car door, and it’s all business.

If flames reach the roots, they may burn forever. He admits,

now, he could have stayed seated, way back, that once, and everything

would be different. If you shed blood, you can be sure it’s kin’s.


Probably he can’t recall when the thought came.

The idea, after all, is to make cessation slow,

an agony. Making the order, the whole school new and his.

“Good soldier, here is a wooden shield; you must bear it

lying down.” Windows in his spacious office pull in all

available light. Peine forte et dure. “This boulder represents

your years of service.” Records show only one occurrence.

Then I confess a lie to buy a life.
His happiest moments,

signing documents at the rolltop desk. More weight. More

He roots for Notre Dame. “And this stone stands for

loyalty of your students.” The evidence was spectral but

admitted. More weight. Which is not life, but only death

in life.
“And here is your rock of rages; kindly place it

over your heart.” He also frequently writes in his book.

Giles’s tongue being pressed out of his mouth, the Sheriff

with his cane forced it in again, as he was dying.

Joel Chace has published work in print and electronic magazines such as The Tip of the Knife, Counterexample Poetics, OR, Country Music, Infinity's Kitchen, and Jacket. Most recent collections include Sharpsburg, from Cy Gist Press, Blake's Tree, from Blue & Yellow Dog Press, Whole Cloth, from Avantacular Press, Red Power, from Quarter After Press, Kansoz, from Knives, Forks, and Spoons Press, Web Too, from Tonerworks, and Scorpions, from Unlikely Books.
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