Poetry: Why I Can Never Be a Father by Kyle Denner

Why I Can Never Be a Father

My niece used to love for me to make her

say uncle, 

but she had a competitive streak and one day,

I ripped her arm all the way off. Then,

I accidently pushed her off a cliff

while playing tag. The apex of my avuncular failure


was when, due to circumstances not entirely my fault, her face was eaten by a wolverine. This cemented my reputation

as ‘irresponsible.’


I hunted down the animal, only to unholster my weapon

and have it transmogrified into banana mush in my sweaty palm.

Please don’t eat my face, I begged the wolverine. 

But the walking shadow only feeds on the innocents.

Not us cum rags, not us spastic bubble-blowers. For us, the wolverine

stitches a hairshirt, roughly licks our lesions, and fingers

our pockmarked adolescence. If you really want to know

why I am not fit to be a father, it is because I am like the river,


full of garbage and animal scat. Nature knows very little

of the circle. Still, I suspect more than my dumb stupid idiot brain. And my grief fell on severed ears 

in a coterie of metal folding chairs in a church basement. Support groups

for people whose family members have had their faces eaten by wild animals

are more common than you might think. They are full of people sure they know

what the weasel thinks. But the blue-gray carpet, the vase of sunflowers

fed only by fluorescence, and, above all, the Folgers signified nothing 

but a wilting corpse struggling up the stairs, shirt snagged on a vagrant nail, tomorrow 

and tomorrow and etc. And guilt dehydrates sopping hearts,

empties rivers. It codifies restless, yet pliant hands into

a vibrating egg,

coated in an intricate fractal design, lodged in a rectal cavity,

as two doctors shrug and guffaw in the hallway.

My love, I can’t give you a child, but I can give you


this delectable box of chocolates. I can give you a Ziplock baggy or an envelope full of my human fur, which,

under a blacklight, glows brilliantly, but bites at the mind’s eye

like the snakes of imagination. What if I told you 

that my therapist, against my strenuous objections,

was convinced that I am His only son? Would you immediately

sense the stench of desperation or would you hear me out? What if I told you

that my greatest fear is metamorphosing into varicose hands

pulling a blood-caked rope, see-saw style, between taut child thighs? 

That I taste afterbirth in unfamiliar cooking?


What if I told you that when my niece recounts the story, 

the electronic larynx insists it was a badger that ate her face?

And that I can’t look at her as she tells her truth

because her eyeballs sit uncannily still in her lunchmeat face,

her mouth devolved into a cephalopod, her tongue a limp transgression,

the gurgle of my name an inchoate still life.

Kyle Denner lives in Tucson, AZ. His poetry has previously appeared in Blue Collar Review, Roi Faineant, Horror Sleaze Trash, and elsewhere.