Issue 28 – Summer 2017 – Josh Booton

Josh Booton


from The Miraculous Courageous

the books all quote my brain is wrong
say a disorder of neural development 
say they don’t know exactly why 
I’m not exactly right they’re wrong though
to say disordered when I’m more 
ordered than anyone I know I know 
sometimes the world is a trickysituation
to get just but maybe the world is 
wrong sometimes the world that wants
to look me in the eye when I want to 
look away when I want to say I know 
my life more than you or nothing at all


in my first memory mom is crying 
shaking me I don’t know why she was 
crying but the tears feel almostnice
on my cheeks warm and soft and even 
the shaking feels nice she is saying
something in my ear but it’s too close 
to hear only never and love her hair 
smells clean covering my face as she
lifts me up carried me into the car
the seatbelt rough against my neck
the stop lights going green yellow red


anthony says seahorses are gay but 
really the males just carry the eggs 
instead of females anthony doesn’t 
know much about marine biology
but he’ll beat the shit he said out
of anyone who bothers me anthony
likes sharks any of numerous mostly
marine cartilaginous fishes because 
they’re ridiculously badass with rows
and rows of razorteeth and aren’t
ever afraid anthony says seahorses
ain’t shit and for once he’s true


today we practice asking questions
how big is it is it green how does 
that make you feel your turn she said
but I don’t want a turn don’twant 
to ask questions that I could
just look the answers up on my own
but how do we look up the way 
sally is feeling she says I don’t know
I said look up she says and see 
for yourself can you please ask 
a question why are we doing this I say


the moon is the ocean’s clock
mom says she said the world is 
like a clock spinning too fast 
but she knows that’s ridiculous
because the world spins so slow 
you can’t even tell it’s spinning
she says a lot of ridiculous
things that I’m her baby boy
and stopthatpleasestopthat
and I wish you could understand
how I feel sometimes I do I said
I say you feel with your hands
yes she says yes of course you do


if divers shine waterlights on them 
they remember back to shadows escape 
into the coral or seagrass where if 
they clench their eyes you won’t find 
them I heard them yelling for me 
so long I hid so well they yelled and 
yelled but I shut my eyes and sat so 
quiet so tight inside the toy chest 
inside the dark inside my chest no lights 
could even find me I coughed once
but the sirens were too loud to hear


in another memory my brother slips 
his arm around my neck chokes 
my throat to lift me off the floor look
at me he’s saying he’s yelling look
at me but the tracks aren’t quite 
right quite straight so the train 
the golden spike was driven may 1869
slipcatches each time it rounds 
the bend the wheels spinning look 
he says in my eyes in my eyes
he said holding my face in his hands 
the train slipping again I can 
fix it he says I’m gonna punch you 
in the face if you don’t look at me 
he said the train is off the tracks again


the bluffs are covered with names 
of people I don’t know hearts 
and plus signs scratched into 
the windpackedsand with sticks
anthony carved SUCK IT six feet high 
and after chucked rocks at birds 
I wish you weren’t autistic sometimes
he says but at least you’re not 
an asshole I didn’t say something back
I’ve learned it’s better that way 
and besides the waves were too loud 
a big storm coming in so we ran 
home all the way with thunder
six seconds apart and quick locked
the door I didn’t mean it he said



Josh Booton is the author of “The Union of Geometry & Ash” (Bear Star Press, 2013).  His poems have appeared widely in such journals as The Missouri Review, Poetry Northwest, 32 Poems, Raleigh Review and elsewhere.  His second collection, The Miraculous Courageous, will be published this year by Free Verse Editions/ Parlor Press.