“Swing Low Sweet Chicken Baby”

“Swing Low Sweet Chicken Baby,” a short story by alumni Nathan Poole (fiction, ’11) appears online at Nat. Brut.

When one of the summer hands let a bucket of roofing nails get away—not yet learned enough to yell out as it hissed down the rake and disappeared over the collar beam—Bates was standing directly beneath, thinking about his sperm count and how he might get his wife to move back in.

The impact brought him down hard to his knees and left the taste of iron in his mouth. He moved his fingers gently up his bald scalp, creeping along the gash. It started at the very top of his head and widened in the center as it slanted towards his right eye. He brought the hand back in front of his face and rubbed the blood between his thumb and forefinger like he would anti-freeze, testing the viscosity. The blood went thin with sweat and ran off the tip of his nose into the dust where each drop formed a small crater between his knees. Bates wondered if he could form his initials. He aimed the drops into the dirt with one eye closed, sighting off the end of his nose. He formed the L quickly, almost effortlessly, but found the B more difficult. The curves, they would be harder to get right...[Keep Reading]…

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