Afterlife outside
the scars on my hands overlap,
a crisscross map of urgencies

and feeble judgment,
of blindly reaching for
admirable manhood at ten,

digging a bullet from a post,
pocket knife folding
to the bone of a left finger.

The hay hook at sixty
sunk into the back of my right
wrapped in blue bandana

until the steers were shipped—
a long white mountain range
that intersects a short ridge

I have forgotten.
Outside white cuffs
they look like clubs—

but they have loved
from the beginning,
yet wear no scars for that.


12 responses to “OUTSIDE HANDS

  1. Love conquers all. This is another of my favorites, John. Respecting the challenges that leave scars helps us to more fully celebrate who and what we love.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Peter Notehelfer

    Oh, yes: a long cedar sliver will fester . . .


  3. Maybe love leaves a different kind of mark? Still, hands don’t lie about the life they’ve had, do they. This is a beautiful, thought-provoking poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ah, your words flowing wonderfully
    In the end we are scared inside and out, Sometimes the internal ones are most visible and sometimes they should not be hidden as much. Wrap up those scares with love of God, self, nature and man. Let them heal.
    With the high tech of the locking blade, I still retain that lesson and scar of the folding blade. Still don’t trust them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, you said it was too hot to write, but obviously it must have cooled off somehow down there, because this is a great one. It hasn’t cooled off up here, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Caleb Pennebaker

    One of my fondest memories of fatherhood will always be watching my kids bicker over “how daddy REALLY lost his fingers” as every time they tried something new I’d tell them to be careful as that was how I lost my fingers.

    Liked by 1 person

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