The Son’s Story

by John Russell Monagle

As I watch the pigs in the sty 
devour the slop I have laid before them,
I wish I could eat as well as them.
My muscles ache from lifting feed buckets.

My hands are raw and blistered
from tilling soil. Lungs press
against the rib cage when I breath
and eyelids are heavy.  I enter 

into entombed sleep with the last thoughts 
awake remembering yesterday years 
in iniquity's den where I prematurely 
spent the inheritance on dissolute gluttony. 

Harlots gave only their bodies expecting, 
receiving only coins for mine before I resided 
on guttered grimy streets, shamefully glancing
at those whose eyes only disdained me.  

I clutched my world, the bottle empty 
as the death inside me, empty as the resolve 
to return home. Thinking, I could go back 
but I don't know the way.

I could go back but what would they say.
But I know to stay there is to pass away
with the thought that maybe one day 
they would find father the same, 

seated in a chair next to the window
overlooking the road of my return.

John Russell Monagle resides in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He retired from a career at The Library of Congress. He graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing, specializing in poetry. He has had numerous poems published, most recently in Sin Fronteras, High Plains Register, and the New Mexico Poet Laureate anthology of New Mexico poets for 2022.

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