Issue > Poetry
Peter Munro

Peter Munro

Peter Munro is a fisheries scientist, working in the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, the Aleutian Islands and Seattle. Some of his poems have been published in Poetry, the Beloit Poetry Journal, the Iowa Review and elsewhere.

The Jack Knife

1.    One dollar got you a jack knife
     in those days, down at the Five and Dime.
     Untempered steel.  Loose in the joint.
     Useless for adults.  Dangerous for kids.

2.    While playing in the woods I found
     a stump eroded by rot and target practice,
     the forest tall all around, shadow.
     While prying loose a twenty-two caliber slug,
     the folding knife closed down on my right knuckle.
     Thirty-five years later, the scar
     across my index finger still gleams white and clear,
     the first injury I ever noticed.

3.    Corpuscles, hemoglobin, iron, and salt.
     These comprise the currency of debt.
     The proper denomination exceeds me.

4.    Allowance.  Debt.  I bought weapons: jack knives.

5.    If I apologized until my last red
     blood cell spilled, she'd still
     be full of rage, she'd still be dead.  The proper
     denomination exceeds me.

6.    The man who owned the stump
     held my wrist firmly, thumb pressed
     against my artery's beating while he cleaned
     the wound.  His steady touch made me feel
     less scared.  He wrapped my finger big
     with gauze.  The proper
     denomination exceeds me.

                    from LOVE POEM


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Michael Homolka


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Elaine Fletcher Chapman
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The Image