Trying to Read the Signs – by Jeff Newberry

My father brings home walkie talkies
and outside, tells me to walk to the end

of our pine-lined street to test distance.
I hurry for the stop sign past a home

where a son throws perfect screamers
into dad’s ready rawhide, a gunshot

smack that makes neighborhood dogs
perk their ears and stare. I kneel

for a missed catch rolled into the street,
toss it back to a smiling boy I don’t know

and hear my father yelling. He waves
and holds up his index finger and then

palm, signs I try to read like a pitcher
squinting from the mound. I hurry on,

sure he’s mad with my slow dawdle.
“Come on back home,” his voice clips

tinny when I push the red button
by the red sign. Later, he says he wanted

me to stop every few feet to check
the range. “I kept yelling. How stupid

can you be?” Me? I wanted to see how
far away I could go and still hear

his voice, calling me back home.


Jeff Newberry‘s most recent book is Cross Country (WordTech), a collaboration of epistolary poems written with the poet Justin Evans. His work has appeared in a variety of online and print journals, including Brevity: Concise Nonfiction, The Laurel Review, and North American Review.