by Steven Dawson
Featured Art: Firer – Felicity Gunn
The first time I watched Braveheart
was in the basement of Lucky’s dope house.
I remember the soft cone of light
reaching out from that small box TV
as if asking for spare change from the dark
and how that little glass frame made
blue-faced Wallace look so much
like an action figure (back when Mel
was somebody’s idea of a hero).
And in the downstairs bathroom hung
a cage with Lucky’s bird, a gray parrot
he took from a woman who couldn’t
pay him and that bird would pull
every dull feather from its back
and curse in Spanish as I watched.
I was nine or ten and alone with Braveheart,
that bird, and basement boxes I imagined filled
with a life before Lucky, when his name
might have been Greg or Brandon or even Mel.
This is how my brother babysat—
upstairs and horizontal with a needle
sleeping in his bowtied arm
like some guardian angel taking
work naps among hallway sleeping bags
swollen with strangers
practicing how to be dead
and Lucky’s bird downstairs
screaming chinga tu madre.
Steven Dawson is an MFA student at Purdue, where he serves as poetry editor of Sycamore Review. He was raised in Los Angeles and Denver. This is his first publication.