Adam Tavel: “Patter”


The only sound my father loved was rain

at night, its dark cascade down windowpanes

that washed him into sleep. A boy, I drowned

inside it too and let it charm the count

of empties crowded by the sink that shone

a hazy brown bouquet in nightlight glow.

Sometimes entranced I’d tiptoe out to lick

their mouths, and as I grew, I made them clink

their glass against my teeth to drain their dregs

like drops from dead canteens. What did I dredge

besides the muffled coughs that burned inside

my fist? I’d brace my dizziness, which widened

with the hall, then fall between my football sheets

where men erased the earth beneath their cleats.

Adam Tavel’s third poetry collection, Catafalque, won the Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press, 2018). He is also the author of The Fawn Abyss (Salmon Poetry, 2017) and Plash & Levitation (University of Alaska Press, 2015), winner of the Permafrost Book Prize. His recent poems appear in Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Los Angeles Review, Puerto del Sol, New Ohio Review, and Tampa Review, among others.

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