The Most Handsome Man in the Neighborhood

As you walked by
Alex waved his hammer
grinning
descending a ladder
from the blind windows
of his house
its constant renovations
Alex stood before you
in your path
even if your grocery bags
cut your palms
he had such a sweet look
he spoke with such
forthrightness about his life
it was hard to be mad
his wife Anu
she was Norwegian
she was well
he had just been canoeing
with his family
that went well
he loved his job
youth coordinator for Katimavik
at times he went on so long
you tried to fracture it all
saying
Don’t you think time
will be overtaken by weather?
this made his pupils
go black as cart grease
but then he’d surprise you
sharing details
so personal
you could not hate him
for his preppy shirts
with the collars up
he’d tell you his young daughter
who made him
want to hook his thumbs
on his tool belt
collected bugs
they were June bugs
in a mason jar
then after a few hours
she released them
in the backyard
& months later
I heard it was her
the daughter
who discovered Alex’s body
in their hall
hanging there
a moth its wings tucked in
I never met her
but I pictured the old woman
at the grocery store
who locked eyes with me
gesturing to the cereal boxes
shouting
These ones here they are
then gibberish
like a bright lamp
flickering
throwing shadows
all around it

John Wall Barger

John Wall Barger

John Wall Barger’s poems appear in American Poetry Review, Rattle, The Awl, The Cincinnati Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and Best of the Best Canadian Poetry. His poem, “Smog Mother,” was co-winner of The Malahat Review’s 2017 Long Poem Prize. His fourth book, The Mean Game, is coming out with Palimpsest Press in spring 2019. He lives in Philadelphia and is an editor for Painted Bride Quarterly. johnwallbarger.com
John Wall Barger

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Author: John Wall Barger

John Wall Barger’s poems appear in American Poetry Review, Rattle, The Awl, The Cincinnati Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and Best of the Best Canadian Poetry. His poem, “Smog Mother,” was co-winner of The Malahat Review’s 2017 Long Poem Prize. His fourth book, The Mean Game, is coming out with Palimpsest Press in spring 2019. He lives in Philadelphia and is an editor for Painted Bride Quarterly. johnwallbarger.com