Christopher Stephen Soden received his MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) in January 2005 from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He has written film and theatre critique for The Fort Worth Ally, EdgeDallas, John Garcia’s The Column, Examiner.com and sharpcritic.com. His poetry has appeared in numerous venues including: The Cortland Review, Rattle, G & L Review, The Texas Observer, Borderlands, Assaracus, and Ganymede Poets. Short plays of his (including : Water, Radio Flyer, Every Day is Christmas. In Heaven. and Queer Anarchy have been staged at Bishop Arts Theatre Center, The MAC and Nouveau 47. Christopher also teaches and lectures on craft, theory, genre and explication.

Needing God

Much as I enjoy the ubiquitous
pleasure of brisket tucked
into enchiladas, tamales
and soft tacos, I wish now
we’d eaten in a place not sunken
in soothing darkness. We talk

about writing techniques, early
Scorsese, how Kubrick terrorized
Shelly Duvall on the set
of The Shining. How I want
to make a novena for my sister,
though I’m not Catholic. I will cadge

mercy from Saint Jude for Penelope
locked away and aching, farther
from me than any dying sun. She swims
catastrophe like a lost fish, and my
failures as a brother keep me
company like disappointed Seraphim.

We get there early for the comedy,
converse with performers, leaving
and returning, actresses with hair wrapped
before they fasten their wigs. The play
is insipid, lines meticulously remembered
still plummet, like poisoned gulls.

He leaves at intermission
to grab a couple of beers,
while I stay because I’m reviewing.
It would take more than this
to rob me of the rush, the jazz

that stokes my breath on opening
night, but I feel his weariness
on the way home, tangible
as a thick, dull coin in the palm.
Knowing it was a devotion that brought

him to my door, when he might
have bailed. I hug Chloe, patting
her small belly, at the same time
stroking Kitty-Kitty who bites
at my knee. When I rise to check

the mail, bruised, purple clouds
block the sky. Behind the small
door I find another dystopian thriller,
a postcard and coupons. Throughout
the evening I have begged
God to bandage me in the implacable
comfort of His arms, and search

my memory for a blue lullaby
from the distant past. Something
sophisticated and intoxicating
and bleak (spring arrived on time,
but what became of you) that will
thaw my frail, disaffected heart.

snakes and ladders

in the cold dark
brick and stone

uncoiling smoke
of elementary

indoctrination with
textbooks and snotrags

ready to beat
all the singing

right out of you
i found a boy

skin pale and milky
as the sun burning

through gray clouds
simon spoke

with a lilt gliding
spirit of air

that crossed the glistening
ocean from the realm

of fairies dark
winged and defiant

and busy with fizzy
mischief we couldn’t have

exchanged more than
three or four sentences

my heart incapable
of surviving

the undiluted deluge
the day i found him

at recess with a gift
for a chipper

brother hardly more
than a stranger

i knew it was nothing
just a board game

from the five and dime
fifty years later i still cannot

imagine what he thought
when i said this is for you

but it doesn’t matter
because his smile

was the nameless
extravagance of boy love