Black Hole

Julia Thacker

My brother is stoned, his pupils black marbles.

The day our mother dies, he smells like weed,

says, If you had to nail up wallboard in rich peoples’

houses all day, you’d fucking love dope too.

Late to the funeral, he sits in back of the church.

Steps out during the eulogy to toke up.                                                                                             


My brother plays bass in a band called Ebola.

A pit bull guards his days and nights, guards

his four sons from three drive-by mothers.

I’ve watched his boys rake a stash

delicately, pick out stems and seeds.

When the union schedules a drug test,

the youngest pees into a plastic cup and

ratholes it in my brother’s jacket.

What I know about these children

I could bellow into a field.


As kids, we sprawled on starburst

Linoleum, glued to Star Trek, my brother

so small he fit in the V of my legs.

Battling neon-colored brains in a jar,

we, navigators on the deck of a starship,

controlled everything and so calmed

the tempers of our house, the wind

of slammed doors. What did my brother think

when I ran away? That I got beamed up?

He must have searched my empty bed,   

the galaxy of linoleum, all the places

I was not. The backyard. The sky.


Headshot | Julia Thacker


JULIA THACKER’s poems appear or are forthcoming in Bennington Review, The Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, and The New Republic. Twice a fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, she has also received fellowships from the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe, the National Endowment for the Arts and Yaddo. A portfolio of her work is included in the 25th Anniversary Issue of Poetry International.