Poetry: “War Games” by Rob Schultz

My brother was the cowboy,
I the Indian. Stumping his
Stick horse in crazy zigzags

He dug up dirt. Once I stabbed
The ground with my knife.
Nicked his ear.

He grew industrious, mowed the lawn
In neat squares, uprooted weeds–wild-
Flowers–built a plywood fort

Under a weathered oak whose branches
I climbed to watch, silent, dead-still.
Papa smiled and patted his burr cut

And called him a diligent boy.
I drew a circle around myself,
Let hair grow down my neck,

And worshiped round wet stones.
Navigating woods by smell of fog,
Watching street lights on the river,

Testing my breath on walks that winter,
I was sure the dead would return.
Shadow that ran across our lawn

And lost itself in the sunset:
I knew it was my mother.
“Just the light,” said my brother.

Drawing his cap gun, he aimed
Straight for the heart.
Mother Earth.

Rob Schultz taught American literature at Western Michigan University and Virginia Commonwealth University before drifting into radio and voice work.  Published first novel, Styll in Love (Van Neste Books) in 1998, which is still in circulation.  Other work has appeared in Prime Mincer, Rattapallax, Slant, Sou’wester, The MacGuffin and West Branch, among others.