“My Father’s Potato Death” by Sean Karns

"Bedrohlich" by Anke Merzbach

MY FATHER’S POTATO DEATH

by Sean Karns


The Irish weather demands
a black umbrella, but I prefer green
over black. I see green in ways
the morning light comes up over
the green tree divide that separates
the city from green-plastic-
covered potato mounds.

Being a crop inspector is serious
business. There’s been a few cropped
heads because men with hatchets
remember days of potato scares. My father
was on duty protecting the crops,
when I found him headless holding
an umbrella. His death reminds
me of the economics of a potato.
Potato vodka for Russians
or competing with them Idahoans.
Those fancy red rich people potatoes;
all fortified by hatchet men.

I took up the post in honor
of my father, and I will bleed out
the men who steal my potatoes.
I’ll use their blood to fertilize crops.
I will tuck them in a makeshift plastic
greenhouse and plant their heads,
call them head mounds.

I eat fried potatoes in memoriam
of the headless. I fire a twenty-one
potato gun salute into the green
haze released from the potato factory.


Sean Karns‘s work appears in several journals, including Folio, Ninth Letter, and Mayday, where the above poem originally appeared.

About Okla Elliott

I am currently an assistant professor at Misericordia University in northeast Pennsylvania. I hold a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Illinois, an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University, and a legal studies certificate from Purdue University. My work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, The Hill, Huffington Post, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, and Subtropics, as well as being listed as a "notable essay" in Best American Essays 2015. My books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a coauthored novel), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation), and Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide (nonfiction).
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