The monster in this movie
didn’t need a machete,
razor fingers, or supernatural powers.
It could infect anyone, anything.
After a first screening,
you wanted to test your blood to ensure
you didn’t host something other
ready to crack open your chest and escape.
You even eyed your dog, listened
for strange growls like the huskie
in that opening scene, its eyes wolf-blue,
no hint of monster inside,
until trapped with other dogs
that snapped their teeth, snarled,
recognized something that doesn’t belong,
turned as a pack against the outsider,
like those boys in gym class
who called you Goose
for the way you ran with a basketball
and laughed when you tripped on hardwood.
After that movie, you scratched your olive skin,
removed your thick, gold-framed glasses,
squinted at your scrawny legs,
the wart on your right knuckle.
You ran a finger down your hairless chest,
your smooth jawline. You opened your mouth,
tapped your soft tongue and crooked teeth, inspecting
for anything that made you different from those alpha boys.
Brian Fanelli’s latest book of poems is Waiting for the Dead to Speak (NYQ Books), winner of the 2017 Devil’s Kitchen Poetry Prize. He is also the author of All That Remains (Unbound Content) and the chapbook Front Man (Big Table Publishing). His work has been published by The Los Angeles Times, World Literature Today, Verse Daily, Main Street Rag, The Paterson Literary Review, among other publications. He has an M.F.A. from Wilkes University and a Ph.D. from SUNY Binghamton University. Currently, he teaches at Lackawanna College.