Where Was the Old Hammer and Wrench?
By Michael Hammerle
Brother, where was the old hammer and wrench? I can picture him,
flat pencil behind the ear and string chalk popping on wood. Grandma,
to prevent rust, buried his urn in an oiled cloth inside of a wax-sealed
shipping chest from a bonnet on a tugboat pipe. I can’t stop the parallels
between a coffin closing and a tool-box clench (other than that Pop was cremated).
Brother, you took the weight when we were young and locked out.
That bought me a few precious years in the sound. Or I could just sit still
too with a small tell. We all know I wear my hubris in the pit of my stomach.
When my daughter was born, I could feel the switch. No more chasing
a father in Pop or you, but I did go searching for the lessons from the old
hammer and wrench—then you and I found less and less common ground.
It seemed that I only had your footsteps to follow but I didn’t know when
you walked out you walked out toe-to-heel. As I was arriving you had
already left. Only with the birth of my daughter did I arrive at an adventure
before you, brother. When we had our boys a month apart that was the
real changing of the linch. We don’t talk about Pop enough. After rescuing
the widows from their hoard—driving home—It doesn’t seem like it but that was
seven years ago. Can we raise our sons like brothers fishing Alligator Lake?
Show these candies a neighborhood that’s rough. Take the kids around, pieces
of a town our sons’ great-grandfather built.
Dialysis: Lake City
By Michael Hammerle
Dill pickle chips and Tijuana Mamas at 5:30 in the morning.
In-transit, Pop drives us to the dialysis center where he goes every few days.
Always arrived early and walked beside him rolling to his chair swap.
Later I’d wheel myself back to the lobby, GAME BOY on my lap.
Yearned for nothing. T.V. set to cartoons. Wheelchair parked seat-to-lobby-chair for a bed.
Saturdays for years; three days a week in the summer felt like an abbey.
I was afraid-of-the-deafening-swirl-from-the-toilet’s-flush years old.
Sly, had me write down his weight and lie.
Learned to love to push Pop up the steep, cracked concrete to the abandoned Sonics.
Crow’s nest view. My mom’s car parked. She was working at Wine and Spirits.
Michael Hammerle is pursuing his MFA at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, where he teaches composition. He holds a BA in English from the University of Florida. He is the founder of Middle House Review. His fiction has been published in The Best Small Fictions 2017, selected by Amy Hempel. His prose and poetry have been published in Split Lip Magazine, New World Writing, Louisiana Literature, After the Pause, The Matador Review, Drunk Monkeys, New Flash Fiction Review, BULL, Misfit Magazine, and many more magazines. He lives and writes in Gainesville, FL.