I had my first boyfriend and I knew my father didn’t like him. My father would stand at our front window, sometimes with binoculars, and watch us walking through the park across the street. My boyfriend earned my father’s dislike on their first meeting. He told my father that poetry was a useless. My father is a poet. Not just the modern kind with the beard, but the ancient kind, the spooky kind.

I’ve been to my father’s readings. He goes from English into Gaelic as if someone inside merely flipped a switch. He’s a poet who can make flowers appear out of thin air or pull coins from people’s ears. He haunts them. My boyfriend humoured me by coming to a reading. I got to hate poetry too.

Things came to a head when my boyfriend started writing bad limericks on the tile in our washroom. He used erasable ink, but that didn’t matter. My father saw it as mockery, especially when Nantucket became involved. That’s when things began to change between my boyfriend and me.

One day he showed me his palms. They’d grown hairy. My father met him at the door, looked at the hands and said: “I know what you’ve been doing, ha, ha.”

Then the warts appeared. They grew on my boyfriend’s lips, then his eyes. He stopped seeing me, but I stood outside his house and sang to him of love and beauty. I blessed him with the sun and moon. He wrote me a letter. You are my poetry, was all it said.

“Warts” was originally published in The Blake-Jones Review as the second place winner of the 2019 Fall Flash Fiction Contest.

Bruce Meyer

Bruce Meyer is author or editor of 64 books of poetry, short fiction, flash fiction, non-fiction, and literary journalism. He is the 2019 winner of the Anton Chekhov Prize for Flash Fiction, the Freefall Prize for Poetry, and was a finalist in the Tom Gallon Trust Fiction Prize and the Bath Short Story Prize. His most recent books are McLuhan's Canary (Guernica Editions) and Pressing Matters: The Story of Black Moss Press (Black Moss Press). Both will appear in October. His previous books include The First Taste: New and Selected Poems (Black Moss Press, 2018) and the short story collection, A Feast of Brief Hopes (Guernica Editions, 2018). A book of essays about his works will appear in 2020 along with a collection of flash fiction, Down in the Ground (both from Guernica Editions). He lives in Barrie, Ontario.