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Art Issue 3 Poetry

Other Little Brother

“Boy, you can talk.”

By Tom C. Hunley

Boy, you can talk.

I hear you over the talking heads on tv news
who aren’t saying anything new anyhow
not like you
with your fresh eleven-year-old perspective:
“The politicians don’t really want to fix this.
They just want to raise money and get votes.”

I hear you in the van after church: “the Bible
says that Jesus had hair like a lamb’s wool,
which implies that he was black, so why
does the children’s Bible portray him as white?”

I hear you
at the city council meeting
undaunted by feedback
from the mic as you say
that new apartments in the neighborhood will mean
more traffic as you ride your bike
more crime when you’ve already heard gunshots
from two blocks away.

I hear you
reciting your award-winning poem
“When You Are Thinking Hard”
at the Poetry Society’s convention
and I hear “aww” and the applause
of grownup hands for your precocious wordplays:
“In Scrabble, you need to scramble
and when there’s tragedy, you need strategy.”

You can talk, and boy you’ll need to
intercede someday when Mom and I are gone
and your sister prays to “our fatherly heaven”
or orders “a plain hamburger” at Chick Fil-A
or when someone needs to translate
your brother into the language spoken
by a cop or a judge or some guy at the mall
who mistakes an autistic meltdown for fighting words.


Tom C. Hunley has published poems in South Carolina Review, Southern Indiana Review, Southern Poetry Review, Story South and Smartish PaceWhat Feels Like Love: New and Selected Poems is forthcoming in 2021 from C&R Press.

Image: “Boy, You Can Talk” by John Weik

John Weik is an artist living in Austin, Texas.