When fathers stopped wearing fedoras at ballgames
unity and chaos wrestled in the mud.
                              •
When fathers stopped telling the old jokes
quills grew on the tongues of their children.
                              •
When fathers stopped strangling ice picks
cars sank in a traveling darkness.
                              •
When fathers stopped building bad-weather traps
fish split themselves open for fun.
                              •
When fathers stopped wiping the sky with red handkerchiefs
marbles settled the war.
                              •
When fathers stopped chasing parachute-suicides
lawns carved the traveling salesmen.
                              •
When fathers stopped leaning on enormous flap-wings
history snuck under the fence.
                              •
When fathers stopped counting jars in the basement
hyenas licked cardboard hyenas.
                              •
When fathers stopped carving urinals with ivy
cakes nibbled once-trusting palms.
                              •
When fathers stopped stuffing clowns into suitcases
birds sang falderal! in the sun.
                              •
When fathers stopped lassoing pig parts for war vets
cats drowned the horizon’s bathtub.
                              •
When fathers stopped stealing cartographer headlamps
newspapers taped their own wounds.
                              •
When fathers stopped practicing hand-shadow puppetry
brooms had a faint holiday.
                              •
When fathers stopped riding banshees in goulash
clocks turned on ugly balloons.
                              •
When fathers stopped hoarding soup soap and quarantine
ropes signed The Treaty of Knot.
                              •
When fathers stopped hollering ravens! 
When fathers stopped drumming cathedrals
When fathers stopped practicing bird dreams
When fathers stopped shouldering trinkets
When fathers stopped tripping on mufflers
When fathers stopped breathing in cisterns
When fathers stopped spitting out wrenches
When fathers stopped pondering cheeses
When fathers stopped bathing in coal bins

cliffs healed themselves to the top
fence posts unzipped the sky
Aspnum gave birth to Charrsid
worms laughed themselves into consorts
garage doors snagged their own eyelids
shoe boxes climbed all the poles
hellgrammites danced in the cupboard
tug boats shrugged their conceits
cowslips died of anemia
                              •
When fathers stopped measuring castrate battalions
trampolines called it a day.

Image credit:Jurassic Blueberries

After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans (street musician, psych- tech, riverboat something-or-other, door-to-door poetry peddler, etc.), Matt Dennison finished his undergraduate degree at Mississippi State University where he won the National Sigma Tau Delta essay competition (judged by X.J. Kennedy). His work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also made short films with Michael Dickes, Swoon, and Marie Craven.