top of page

Like a Child

—Mario Duarte

Like a Child

                                                                                  the river cried.

                                                                                  The shore coughed smoke.

                                                                                  Fire ate the pines spitting

                                                                                  out charred toothpicks.

                                                                                  Birds dropped out

                                                                                  of a blood red sky.

                                                                                  An old man counted

                                                                                  days on his fingers.

                                                                                  His wife had already

                                                                                  sailed in a pine boat

                                                                                  to the underworld.

                                                                                  Even their old dog

                                                                                  on a soft pillow barely

                                                                                  raised his dry snout

                                                                                  to sniff the wildfires.

                                                                                  The smoke had other plans—

                                                                                  it crept like an angel

                                                                                  over the pine needles

                                                                                  under spiderwebs

                                                                                  inside every limb—

                                                                                  waited for the old,

                                                                                  the young, all ages

                                                                                  to step outside (seeking escape)

                                                                                  to kiss each mouth

                                                                                  with unmatched passion

                                                                                  like a spike in the head.


MARIO DUARTE is an Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumnus. His poems and short stories have appeared in Arkana, Bones, Write Launch, Red Ogre Review, and Rigorous. New work is forthcoming in Bayou, iō Literary Journal, and Ocotillo Review. In 2024, he will publish a poetry collection and a short story collection.

bottom of page