Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage

Mother died. Father fled. Chaos ensued
as though I were swarmed by hornets

unloosed from a nest hidden high above.
His second marriage magnified the buzz

and stings, my hands tied behind my back.
After seventy years, there’s still a gallery full

of fierce memories. The debris of the natural
disaster that divided self-before from self-after.

I fold and refold the blanket of experience,
unable to make the whole lie flat again.

I look through boxes of old photographs
with notes on the back. Names, dates,

I do not try to recall. I do not want reminders.
I avoid the mirror, the otherness of image

too mordant a reminder of my present.
The brittleness of the husk that holds me

increasingly manifest. My future,
the ashes from a spent cigar smeared

across the crystal ashtray on my desk.


Kevin Norwood was the winner of The Porch Poetry Prize 2020. His poetry has appeared, or is pending, in a variety of journals, including Edison Review, Evening Street Review, Iowa Review, Litbreak, The Magnolia Review, Nashville Review, Natural Bridge, Tulane Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. He received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English from the University of Virginia, where he studied creative writing with Peter Taylor and John Casey. He is an attorney with a law degree from William & Mary, and lives in Brentwood, Tennessee with wife Vicki and rescue pup Lily.

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