TWO POEMS by W. Todd Kaneko

/ / Issue 17


Home is our name for the long dead
workshop where we keep memory alive 

by fashioning new animals to stalk 
the back yard. This is a two-headed cow

standing near the shed, eating everything
we thought holy. This is an ancient tiger,

sabre-toothed and wicked, his spiky tail
wrecking the patio. My dead father walks 

around my house at night, fixing things 
that don’t need fixing and breaking 

everything he touches. This morning
the cupboard doors were unhinged,

all the kitchen lightbulbs burned out.
I blindfolded my father and drove him

to the forest’s edge and left him in a field
of wildflowers and when I got home,

he was already back—he had dismantled 
the front steps and used the pieces to build 

a shrine to the sky. We kneeled,
me and him and all the weird animals

we have wrought together, and we prayed
we might figure out how to remind the dead

they are dead, how to differentiate 
where we live and where we are buried.



Imagine that one day I will be dying 
and my son will want to talk

about dinosaurs, those terrible lizards 
dessicated and deposited in the shale,
long shadows of the herd abandoned 

to stone. He won’t believe the asteroid
theory because a collision between Heaven
and Earth makes too much sense

when it comes to theories about death.
Imagine T. rex watching the sky turn black,
little arms held up in vain to shield her face
from the fire and filth—she could be

curled up with her brood in a cave instead,
babies tucked between haunch and tail
for the end of days. Death awaits everyone

one day, but imagine if it didn’t—
my son and me sitting on the front porch,
beards down to our knees and looking

for something to talk about with my father. 
He lifts both of us in his arms and we look up 
at the sky, at birds in search of warmer weather, 
at the stars beyond because old habits 

are hard to break. We listen to the ruckus
in the distance—ambulances and police cars
all blasting their sirens and horns along 
with the dinosaurs’ horrible song.