Sometimes I like to explore the empowerment of children in situations where the odds are otherwise stacked against them. In this case, I went for the typical “abusive father” scenario and added a little vengeful magic to it. (This poem is at least partially inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s wonderful films The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth.) It’s fun to dig up these older poems, and I hope you enjoy reading them. They are, after all, some of the greatest poems ever to grace the ether. There have been studies and polls about them. You’ll have to take my word for it.

Giving Life
a poem by Jason Bovberg

‘what the fuck?!’
the curse escapes daddy’s open mouth
a black acid cough

the slap of daddy’s hand
across mommy’s face
catches my breath in my throat

mommy tumbles backward
staring at me and not making a sound
knowing what daddy will do if she does

mommy bites into her bloody lip again
and slams into the wall
a jarring thump

‘what’s going on here?!’
daddy lurches drunkenly
pounding his feet left and right

i watch daddy’s huge feet
stomping down on the black moving things
as he moves toward her

he stares wildly at the thousands of insects
yelling at mommy about all the goddamn bugs
‘where the hell are they coming from?!’

i reach out again
peel a dead cockroach from the tile
secretly giggling as it twitches back to life

between my fingers