Questions and Answers


Yesterday my five-year old daughter chased her brother

with a spatula. I’ll kill you! she screamed. Where does she

get that? From the perverts on television. We don’t have a

television. Then from her mother and father bickering.

I’ve been a single parent since she was born. Then it’s the

school, you know what it’s like. But she’s home-schooled.

Then it’s the isolation. We live in a commune with

seventeen other families. Gypsies? We’ve never been so

involved. Then it’s the literature, look what kids read

these days! I only teach her math and science. Then it’s

easy: the rhetoric of the ruling political party sends a

message: this sort of behavior is acceptable. The

commune declared its sovereignty, there are no political

parties—I haven’t paid taxes in years. Then it’s the high

fructose corn syrup. Everything we eat comes straight

from the ground or the teat. No meat? No meat. Because

I was going to say it’s the meat. Couldn’t be. Then it’s

your religion. Don’t have one. Then it’s definitely your

lack of religion! She’s being raised Buddhist, no

obligations. Look, I didn’t want to say it: the girl needs a

mother. I’m a hermaphrodite. That doesn’t count. What

do you mean that doesn’t count! Come on. Why is your

hand touching my leg? I’m trying to help you relax, is it

helping? Sort of, I guess. But not really? Not really.

Listen. What. It sounds like you’re doing everything you

possibly can. You really think so? Yes.

Dave Nielsen a PhD student in English at the University of Cincinnati. He has published poems in Willow Springs, Cutbank, Tar River Poetry, and other journals.