The Slaughter Queue

The Slaughter Queue
Jake Sheff

I never knew the gender of the person who taught me everything, with skin the color of prestige, a voice and dialect centripetal and turgid, and eyes that postponed definition. The name of this person means rug-burn in a language on the flyleaf of history, but its antonym is hatless. The very first story the person told me was about a black-eyed Susan outside a roller rink whose consternation was clenched and compounded by some girls in a “golden cabal.” Possessed by the discord, like a marigold or neoplastic nerd, my jittery allegiance threw a tantrum in my friable chest, and I wouldn’t be aware of it for another thirty years. I began to study jeremiads written in crayon and reconcile with my driveway. My wife said I was a wiener, but at least I valued the brochures impeding the middle, so all I could say was “crud buckets.” As banal as making out and Skittles used to be, sedum is now. And the routine of kidneys seems simply sophomoric. But in those first years the hypocrisy of macadamia nut farmers and the like was incalculable, more so the cosine of grief. Far be it from me to blame espionage or my scotoma for my love. The relics of talent are yummier than libraries, like rosin to a violin, but relegated to the wagon pulled by a pockmarked hit-man and brimming with crackers refused to the children with rickets.

about the author
Jake Sheff is a captain in the USAF currently training as a pediatrics resident physician. He’s married with a baby daughter and several rescue pets. His poems have been published widely online and in print, including at Pirene’s Fountain and Danse Macabre. His first chapbook, Looting Versailles, was recently released by Alabaster Leaves Publishing, and can be purchased on the publisher’s website or

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