Dead Man’s Toenails

Every time I look down, there he is—
thick disease-ridden hooves for nails,

dad’s gift to me. I’ve resented them my entire
life. Briefly the blame fell on walking barefoot in

manure as a kid, that was my mother’s guess.
Now I realize it’s my inheritance, this

hideous prize; a reminder of
the old man’s genetic magic.

Every time I clip, curse and polish
these yellow crustations of crumbling

decay—my only wish is to kill this crap.
What if, with dream-like desire I could

inadvertently resurrect the dad I had.
We could dance a two-step on our peasant feet!

I remember the doughnuts

I can never go back there; I know this is true because I visited the old neighborhood just last July and it’s simply gone, a ghost not a community, filled with boarded up shot-gun shacks, broken sidewalks, dirt for lawns, and condemned signs. The old 7-11 is a building that lies gutted with a sign in the front fractured window that reads Easy Taxes 1 2 3. When I was a kid, I emptied the coin jar early on Sunday mornings and walked three blocks to Daffy’s Donuts on the corner of Evangeline Throughway in the throbbing heat and bought a dozen day old for 79 cents. When I returned dad would have chicory coffee brewing and my sister would slice an orange or apple to share. We three sat on the back deck under the giant pecan tree grinning like fools. This was the life! I remember thinking. To this day I cannot eat a fresh hot doughnut—it just tastes wrong.

Nicole Farmer is a reading tutor living in Asheville, NC. Her poems have been published in The Closed Eye Open, Quillkeepers Press, Capsule Stories, Sheepshead Review, Roadrunner Review, Wild Roof Journal, Bacopa Literary Review, Great Smokies Review, Kakalak Review, 86 Logic, Wingless Dreamer, Inlandia Review, In Parentheses, and others. Nicole has been awarded the First Prize in Prose Poetry from the Bacopa Literary Review and has just finished her first chapbook entitled Wandering Not Lost. Way back in the 90’s she graduated from The Juilliard School of Drama. You can find her dancing barefoot in her driveway on the full moon at midnight.


Image by Arnold Gatilao from Oakland, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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