Blood in a Place I Could Not Yet Understand

It was harder to say no back when Paul 

threatened to sue me after I told him

I couldn’t play GI Joe anymore beneath

the weevil-chewed spruce on the island

of my cul-de-sac where he always came

to visit his aunt. Truth is I liked him just fine. 

He told stories as tall as that spruce, sometimes 

taller. Then he tracked dog shit all through

my house and on the tie-dye beanbag chair

in my basement and that meant we were

finished. That was how I saw it then.

But I couldn’t see why Paul wore that same ripoff 

Mighty Ducks jersey even in the offseason,

lived for entire weeks with his uncle and aunt 

when his adopted mother was seven blocks northwest, 

his parents by blood in a place

I could not yet understand. It wasn’t until 

high school that I saw the things they wrote 

about him in the gazette — thirty round

white pills of OxyContin, storm water

and spring thaw breaking around his body, spread 

like discarded clothing in the concrete basin

at the bottom of the ravine behind my cul-de-sac.

Curtis LeBlanc’s poetry has won the Reader’s Choice Award in Arc Poetry Magazine’s Poem of the Year Competition and been shortlisted for The Walrus Poetry Prize as well as CV2’s Young Buck Poetry Prize. Good for Nothing (Anstruther Press, 2017) is his first chapbook. His first book-length collection, Little Wild, is forthcoming from Nightwood Editions (2018).