Tom C. Hunley


Listen to the audio version read by Sean Mahoney.

I admire the gait of Bigfoot
in the famous Patterson film,
glance cast over the shoulder
as if at a sudden takeoff of birds,
arms swinging in time to some mysterious
rainforest music, no need to break
stride before returning to her
own thoughts and the ground before her.
So what if all the evidence shows
that she is just a man in a suit?

All the evidence shows that I too
am just a man in a suit,
too hurried to walk like that
or even like the young, still unsure
where they're going and with years
to get there. My size ten Rockports
already look small next to the size eleven
Converses my fourteen-year-old autistic son
got for Christmas. His enthusiasm for fashion
is legendary, as is his passion for the smallest,
most surprising things. Every day he tells me
how many button-down shirts
he owns (twenty-three at last count).
Every day he says Guess what,
I've been in high school for 91 days
92 days, 93 days, 94 days, Wow!

The heart has many doors, wrote Dickinson
and on the rare occasion when my son lets me in
his room to show me, once again, a Youtube video
of the ten fastest race cars, or to tell me that snakes
move twelve miles per hour, I feel like I've entered
a secret, mythical place, where my son walks tall,
king of everything in shouting distance,
and it's okay to shout in son's world,
it's okay to repeat a name a hundred times
because the syllables taste so sweet,
it's okay to bay and rage without pretension
or say just what's on your mind even if it's been there
for months and you've been saying it over and over,
and ordinary ways of seeing the world
seem like cubic zirconia dreams I've been sold
that keep me from feeling the cold or smelling
what Wallace Stevens called the odor of stars,
from talking like Bigfoot and St. Francis
to the sunlight and the stones, finding a world
inside this world that is uniquely inhabitable
for me. Then my son says That's enough,

tells me he needs to walk alone, lets me know
my presence threatens to despoil the whole forest
he has built as a stay against hurts. I walk out,
once again exiled from my own heart,
my GPS signal lost, my contacts gone,
my habitual ways of seeing the world
knocked to the floor like books from a coffee table.


Tom C. Hunley is a professor, a musician, and a father of four. His latest poetry collection is HERE LIES (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2018). His poems have been published in Raintown Review, Rattle, Raven Chronicles, Rhino, and Rosebud, among others.