What We Told the Children

But are some acts so egregious as to be immune from the profit-motivated incentives to perpetuate them?
                —“Money to Burn: Economic Incentives and the Incidence of Arson”

Just five words spoken through a tensed jaw
for Orpha Holzapfel, who still lives here,
who called each horse and held each muzzle near
to feed them mints before she lit the straw,
for the duty officer (her son-in-law)
who reached the stable first so he could clear
the scene and bribe the fire chief who, we’d hear,
would overlook the charred oil cans he saw
and click the Act of Nature box without
approval or reproof but as one of us
who’d pass the paddock stacked with black barn-poles
on our way to pay respects with casseroles,
who’d chorus “Like a River, Glorious”
and tell our kids the horses all got out.

Brian Brodeur

Brian Brodeur

Brian Brodeur is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Some Problems with Autobiography (Criterion Books, 2023), which won the 2022 New Criterion Prize. New poems and literary criticism appear in Hopkins Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Founder and Coordinator of the digital interview archive “How a Poem Happens,” Brian lives with his wife and daughter in the Whitewater River Valley. He teaches at Indiana University East.
Brian Brodeur

Author: Brian Brodeur

Brian Brodeur is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Some Problems with Autobiography (Criterion Books, 2023), which won the 2022 New Criterion Prize. New poems and literary criticism appear in Hopkins Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Founder and Coordinator of the digital interview archive “How a Poem Happens,” Brian lives with his wife and daughter in the Whitewater River Valley. He teaches at Indiana University East.