Do the Right Thing (1989)

Sister stands in the lake with me.
She has mud just under her chin;
The lip bit under lip. 

I cut her hamstrings.
She slips underneath the water.


Sister marries
A nice, balding, carpet salesman.
She paints

Or collages in a studio.  I do not, anymore,
Put my
Fists into walls.

Her work flat, a lot
Of primary colors: a tomboy
Laughing; a dog,

Its left eye cut out
Its right eye cataracted.

The dog tastes the tomboy’s wet legs.


My father and mother will
Burn the house down—everyday
I pray for it. 

Poem for Narrative People

         for Pete, who is not one

I have gained 15 pounds
And I carry
The fat like a veil. 


God ain’t all
Infinite and shit
He or She has boundries

Proven by five-year-olds
Who rub periwinkle
Over God's guns for arms,

Drawn and redrawn.
We see the eraser marks
And the dug-in gray

Of where the pencil dulled
On the body.
And they also crown Him or Her

With a gaudy claw.
But thank Him the kids don't assume
He listens to jazz or honky tonk

Or She pets the souls of dodos,
She picks silphium
In some pretty garden: God just blahs.


Phil Estes' work has appeared in Beecher's, Hayden's Ferry Review, Willow Springs and others, with work forthcoming in Acreage, Diagram, and Sonora Review.   He lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma.