UNDERPANT RAGE BURNS DOWN HOUSE
An angry husband who threw old clothes from his
wardrobe in the garden and set fire to them because he
could not find his clean underpants accidentally burnt
his home down.
You know that in his nightmares it came
differently, the final great disaster that would set
his life ablaze. On his Posturepedic matress,
the angry husband maybe dreamt of class
five twisters, black as smoke and roaring darkly from
the skies, or swollen tidal waves deleting
all of Europe in one apocalyptic sweep. Perhaps
he figured doom would fashion him heroic—
the pistol-toting burglars tackled as a single shot
is fired, so wife and sons and Labrador can flee
while he slumps, alone and bleeding as the world
recedes to a single brilliant pinpoint of eternity.
But instead of cataclysmic bursts, he lives
with ordinary griefs and catalogs of small
domestic wrongs: light bulbs burning out in empty rooms,
electric bills left languishing for months, motor oil
grown sticky as Labrea tar, and countless mornings
with no underpants. He’d maybe born it all with grace
so many years that overlooking stuff became a kind
of hobby or an art. And in his mute, forsaken heart,
the angry husband was pissed that life had issued him
a plastic tray to the buffet line while others got to feast
in banquet halls and when they came to die, could say
they’ve done it all. He’d had it on that dismal morning,
when, fresh-showered in his navy robe that someone
gave him Christmases ago, he found the top drawer bare
save for a wrinkled handkerchief and lone, black sock.
And if the wrong things went missing, maybe even you
would sprint just like a nutcase to the garden, half-dressed,
pink-faced and cursing up a storm, so that the neighbors
had to wonder did you find your wife in bed with some buddy
from the pub? Was it her lover’s underpants you hurled
to the earth the way a tortured opera star might fling his cape?
Is that why you are crouched with your Bic lighter,
Looking gleeful as an orange glow blooms amid
the lump of underthings, then spreads to catch the bean-
stalks, peas and marigolds, engulfing everything
that’s green until your face drowns in the flickering
mirage of heat and flames like a lost soul,
too late comprehending you create your hell.
Christina Kallery's poems have appeared in Failbetter, Rattle, The Hiram Poetry Review, The MacGuffin, Poetry Motel and other publications. She holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and recently moved to New York City from Detroit.