When I Say Fireworks

by Mathews Huey

look like the splash of a little boy
pushed from a pontoon boat,
you say we should always wear speedos,
just in case. We meet on the sledding hill
with a blanket and a meteor shower,
tell silly stories about biscuits terrified
in the gravy line. How if basements
could talk, the whole town
would start smoking. In the distance,
a parade of Appaloosa withers, half-
bruised and unwilling. In the distance,
the Ohio Valley in mandatory prayer.
No one knows we’re up here—
shy boys in bluegrass twilight, climbing
bald cypress trees to hide from men
preaching in floodlight of tool sheds.
I am trying to forget the sink where
I held my face underwater so they
wouldn’t hear me. You still hold
your breath at the click of a screen door,
quick, let’s tell another story.


When I say dynamite,
come closer, lean in
for this—one day
we’ll have a white house
with views of Darby Riverbank,
we’ll sift muddy water, swill
from the bowls of each
other’s hands. We’ll Trail
a line of kerosene
through the parking lot
of Blue Mountain strip mall
and light it up. Light
everything in this town—
honeysuckle in the holler,
veterans chewing stars
off porch flags, yelling
at invisible land mines—let them
burn too. Hallelujah
urns for your mama and mine.

University & College Poetry Prizes Page