Lance Larsen, a University of Houston graduate, has published two poetry collections: Erasable Walls (1998) and In All Their Animal Brilliance (2005). Individual poems have appeared in The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, New York Review of Books, TLS, Grand Street, and The Pushcart Prize 2005. A professor at BYU, he’ll spend winter 2005 in London as part of a study-abroad program.
In the heat of chance, in the cold sweetness of rules,
my son slaps out rhythm. Rock Paper Scissors.
Does the hand quicken the mind? He is a mystic,
a prisoner gambling for bread. His rock crushes
my scissors. My scissors cut his paper. He shrugs
off each win, but losing, offers up his hand
for punishment, a Calcutta leper caught thieving.
Who taught him to favor penalty? When does play
equal fear? Again, he says, then slaps his leg.
I choose paper. He chooses—no, he lifts his hands,
as if channeling electricity, fingers writhing,
fingers kissing the space between his eyes and mine.
Fire, he says with five dirty flames at the end
of each wrist. What is a father? At what temperature
do rules melt? Even the rain at the window burns.