By Thomas Delano

I thought I’d be a man when I could drive all the way home
alone, my hands stained black with oil from my own engine –
but I don’t know a thing about combustion,
or how to fix a flat and dig through the dark mess under my hood.
I’m no more adept with a wrench busting
beneath kitchen sinks, and forget hammers, saws, and screws.
Give me one and I’m a fish in a frying pan –
except I’m the fish real men catch
and throw back, can’t tie a jig and wind blowing off the lake
wets my eyes, maybe too much to share with guys
who walk out of water into woods with rifles in hand.
I can’t shoot the bottom side of a bridge.
Maybe I’m a deer,
but I run like a broken cliché tripping across the page –
see, real men don’t think
like that. I thought I’d be a man when I could pay
for my own dinner, and hers, by cleaning shit
from Walmart toilets and working ten thousand hours a night –
but no, that meant nothing until I was old enough
to drink gin and mumble This is mine with every glass,
the care-but-not-too-much attitude on everything
masked like a flask in the pocket of a Carhartt jacket.
When I cry, it’s clear I am not one of those men
but a broken branch, stuck in the shadow
of trees whose bark is too thick to cut.


Thomas Delano received his MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he served as an editor for the Blue Earth Review. He currently works as a high school English language instructor.