THIS IS A YEAR OF THE DRAGON CONTEST ENTRY
A year of the dragon entry - 174 words.
Kids have a certain way of knowing.
This one is for Lyle.
3 AM, stumbling home from the bowling alley
singing Okinawan field songs he heard as a child
or soulfully belting out Rat Pack classics,
Granpda lay on his back on the dewy Bermuda grass
the Budweiser rising like fetid steam out of his skin.
My brother would rise from the sofa
and go outside to round him up
like a wayward steer on a country road
so his braying wouldn't wake the whole cul-de-sac.
Other times, stepping out of the taxi in the dark
his eyes would flash oni fire at a kindly offered word --
The jizo of Pearl City scowling under bushy brows --
he'd shove your steadying hands away, cursing, snapping.
Grandma bailed him out so often over the years
Hiding her shame under her perfectly curled bangs
Not looking at the desk sergeant, who, too,
Wouldn't meet her eyes.
Mom and Dad never spoke of the lost decade
where everyone slept lightly.
The kids silently wondered if all grandpas were like this;
We never spoke the words.