April 15, 2022

by Seth Leeper


i was sleeping on the couch when the intruder
eased up the window, climbed into the living
room, woke me to a ski mask face and a bass glottal
command, we’ll fast forward now to the four of us
lined up like dominos, a father, a son, a daughter,
a woman, seated across squishy cushions, a gun jabbing
at the air around us, our hands tied in plastic behind
our backs, where one would expect there to be fear,
there was a solemness to the air, a resignation,
so that none of us were surprised when the intruder
placed the nose of the gun to your chest, ordered you
to choose between your kids and their mother,
“oh, she’s not my mother,” i wanted to say
of the woman on the other side of you,
who would sooner see lead pierce through my chest,
hear the rhythm of my labored breaths serenade
the room, but i was silent, and, tellingly, so were you,
i looked at you, convinced my eyes said enough,
but you were not in the room, head hung low,
chin on your chest, faux paux replaced fear
until the metal of the holster left a goose egg
on the side of your head, you coughed up
an unintelligible response, gun barrel balanced
your face at an angle to meet the intruder’s
gaze, the hair on all of our arms rose in inquiry,
ears zoomed in on your quivered breaths,
incredulity sucking out the last of the air,
when you spat out it was an impossible choice,
biology recoiled, your father groaned from his grave,
and you became a kin to a stranger



Seth Leeper is a queer poet. A 2022 Brooklyn Poets Fellow, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in River Styx, Salamander, Hobart After Dark, Juked, and Always Crashing. He holds an M.A. in Special Education from Pace University and B.A. in Creative Writing and Fashion Journalism from San Francisco State University. He lives and teaches in Brooklyn, NY. He tweets @sethwleeper.