“Exhuming Luigi”, “Father” and “On the Beach Wall: St. Malo”

Exhuming Luigi

God, we were drunk the night we exhumed your ferret

from the dirt in the grounds of your old school. We

drank mudslides and white russians until the bartender

dimmed the lights and put all the stools but ours on

the bar, the chairs on the tables. Stumbling into the cold,

on a chorus of “Life’s Been Good” and “Marian the Librarian,”

thinking what a good idea it would be to dig some bones

from the dirt. We found a trowel in your parents’ shed, headed

to the side of the chapel, and dug--you remembered just where.

Not far down, we found a jaw bone, some teeth, and the old

weathered knit hat you buried him in--red and green, just like

Christmas, but dirtier. We celebrated his life with a toast

of homemade white russians in your parents’ kitchen, just before

we fell into a drunken sleep, entangled with each other on the floor.


In the fading light outside our den

the night birds begin their calling.

You sit, after a long day of work

and flying planes, iced tea between

your legs, the news on the television.

I stand behind your chair, combing

wisps of hair over your balding head.

You smell of Old Spice. I love looking

at your powerful arms, resting

in your lap, one hand draped over

the glass, one over the arm of the chair.

Your huge frame and your calm fill the room.

By day, you are the pilot, Hun’s Hammer

emblazoned on the fuselage of your fighter.

By night, you are my barbershop customer,

my confidant. If you lived, I would have

a blueprint of how to father my own children:

how to nestle them in blankets, allow their

questions to linger in the air, resting in

their thoughts, just out of reach.

On the Beach Wall

St. Malo

for Jimmy and Barbara

After carousing and flirting with the British

soccer team in the misplaced Irish pub,

two bottles of Burgundy, some Guinness,

and a couple of Tullamore Dews later

we’re pressed together on the beach

wall listening, holding each other

up, listing and reeling, in the mist. We

can hear music welling up from

the beach below. Maybe they have

cigarettes, she says. Firelight hazing

up in the night, sparks lighting

our way as kids throw logs

on the fire, boys and girls playing,

smoking, kissing. My husband plays

guitar, she says. This is Jimmy,

this man, this hero. Ah! Jimmy!

like Jimmy Page! they say. Something

like that. A smiling dark haired boy

hands me a guitar, and I play, for

my European debut, “Sitting on Top of the World.”

About the Author

Stuart Gunter

Stuart Gunter has poems published or forthcoming in Broad Street, The Penmen Review, Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature, and The Artemis Journal, among others. He lives in Schuyler, Virginia, with his wife and two children, two dogs, and two cats. He likes to paddle the Rockfish River and play drums in obscure rock bands.