Spring 2006

Michael A. Antonucci


Michael A. Antonucci Michael A. Antonucci lives in Chicago. His recent prose and poetry has appeared in Exquisit Corpse, Admit Two, and Near South. A member of the Jimmy Wynn Ensemble, a collaborative writing experiment, he teaches literature and writing at Marquette University.

Pocolips    Click to hear in real audio

In that grain embargo against Russia
     they had a famine about starved.

To keep their special horses alive,
     the Russians feed them bark off the trees

I saw it when this preacher come on TV,
     said the horse's name was 'Pockolips.'

                                             Horace A.           

Devin told me:
a man name horse lives in that house.
She was three       I did not
stay at Alto then.   I was only a guest sometimes.
We were riding to Marked Tree
with her mamma; it was still early spring.
Vernon had not chopped his foot
    or been put out of Clev’s house.

When I was a guest
at Alto, I would stay up late talking
with Devin’s mamma, after
Harvey went sleep. Devin always got
put out of her bed when I stayed at Alto, but
she told me
she liked it because
            she got to sleep on a pallet
            in her mamma and daddy’s room.

Horace Armstrong drove
a red Ford F-100           (‘71 model),
The rebel flag was tacked inside its cab roof. He drank
half-pints of Heaven Hill Whiskey every night; wouldn’t
share it with anyone, not even his best friend Tommy Ellenberg.
Work days whiskey sweat came through his shirt if he was on a tractor
or not. Horace never rolled-up his shirt sleeves or unbuttoned the top button.

His oldest, Suzy, turned 14, and he told Tommy Ellenberg
it was all right since Shelby left him and took the kids.

Summer evenings he put his family
            (Rita, his wife,
             Suzy, before she got with Tommy,
             the twin girls and
             Horace Junior, they called “Bubby”
in the red Ford
to go to town.
They about always left Frank
at the house. He might have been Rita’s brother.

Me       and       Frank    started
                                     early on            Fourth July:
                        Twin Ditches                and Little River
                        Bussch beer       for breakfast.

We were
                        done                by noon.

            He fell out         of my Chevy     with
half-dozen         catfish,              a bag
            of candy           for the kids       and can
            of peach snuff                           for Rita.

Frank had         grey cowboy boots;
                        he wore  them with acid-wash jeans.

That night he     knocked at the door
            on Clev’s house             to tell    me
            Horace’s daddy             had passed.                                                            

It was the fifth day when Mellon said:

They are waking him like he was a black man

Horace stayed at his mamma’s
            with Rita and the kids
            until the funeral.

He came back to Alto    just once:
                                    it stormed
                                    the giant poplar 
                                    by Jim’s house lost
                                    a limb.

It was hot inside
the Red Oak Baptist Church.

All the white
tractor drivers were there
           with their families
           boots and trucks.

Preacher said he saw too many
           unfamiliar faces,
preached wages of sin was death,
didn’t once mention Horace’s daddy.

Everyone said Horace’s mamma
            was      tore-up about it.

I know Horace got mad.

Tommy Ellenberg said he’d  have
             liked to hit that preacher.



Michael A. Antonucci: Poetry
Copyright © 2006 The Cortland Review Issue 31The Cortland Review