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Once Removed

Neil Savoy

Right now, my father is probably smoking
a cigarette he rolled himself, pinched between
tobacco-stained fingertips as a cassette plays
the wavering voice of Neil Young
in his basement apartment. I imagine
he’s sitting on that couch older than myself,
off-white with fabric like burlap ready
to have lint picked off. Cans of Campbell’s
chicken noodle soup spaced out in the
cupboard next to the pill bottles with long
names I could never pronounce or remember.
A 12-pack of Natty Ice waits in the fridge,
the same kind I sipped once and spat out.
He must still sleep on the same twin-size mattress
without sheets, only the thick, coarse
blanket with faded umber frogs on each end.
A jaundiced pillow soaked in the oil of his midnight
hair and the skin of the full moon
on the back of his head. On the other side of the room
is the one I slept in, a double from his father that I used
to drag into the family room to watch
The Simpsons in grayscale, crushing Pringles
against the roof of my mouth with my tongue.
I wonder if he still keeps a second toothbrush
in the bathroom, or if he still buys extra maple syrup
for me to soak my frozen waffles in and leave
the sticky amber plate unrinsed in the sink.