We’re walking to the car, crunching snowacross the yard, overburdened, as usualwith backpacks and books and lunchesin bags, when my son says, Youwould make a good grave. What? I say.My gun could do that. You don’t have a gun,I remind him, as he climbs into his car seatand waits, smiling, for the familiar zipand click of the belt. Dad, he says, staringdown the fingergun inches from my face,you’re my best friend. Across the street,the birch look thinner and whiter in snow.I turn off the news, but too late—too late—and drive slowly, so we can watch two crowstuck and shoot through the tangled branches,like the two he loves from his favoritestory book, Odin’s black angels, Hugin and Munin,thought and memory, sent out acrossthe world each morning with the hopethat they come back. Today, luckily, weunbuckle his seatbelt, and my son kissesmy hand before we cross the street.Today we hang his coat on the hookby his name, and he runs throughthe open door and into the bright roomof children playing without saying goodbye.
Copyright © 2021 by Ryan Vine.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Ryan Vine is the author of To Keep Him Hidden (Salmon, 2018), winner of the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award; the Weldon Kees Award-winning chapbook Distant Engines (Backwaters Press, 2006); and the forthcoming chapbook WARD (Texas Review Press, 2021). His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The Rumpus, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and on National Public Radio. Ryan is professor of English at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN.
Virginia Commonwealth University
Senior Editors: Gregory Donovan, Mary Flinn Senior Literary Editor: Randy Marshall Senior Online Editor: M. A. Keller
While online media are still experimental tools for literary publication and no one can be certain exactly what kinds of differences they will make in linking writers and audiences, it is our assumption that one fundamental editorial principle applies in this realm as it does in the print realm. That sole principle is excellence. Writing published by this journal will be the very best available, and it is the first responsibility of the editors—by selective solicitation, and by intelligent winnowing—to make certain that this is always the case. Each issue of Blackbird will be permanently archived online. We are also committed to the principle that writers should be paid for their work.
While it is true that excellence can be differently defined and construed, our primary definition will be this: Beyond simple obvious criteria such as “well written in a variety of technical senses,” and “original in terms of subject and style,” excellent writing challenges traditions in profound ways, and is radical insofar as it is aware of its own origins in tradition and seeks to expand the boundaries of the realm of discourse of which it is a part. The editors are committed to seeking out such writing and to encouraging and challenging writers to produce it.