“Giving Up Isaac” by Kyle Hemmings

Kyle Hemmings

God once said to me,
Give me your Isaac
or whatever most precious:
your mother’s amethyst,
a pot of plastic peonies
from your first winter lover,
or your one functioning kidney
with overworked nephrons,
I defied Him.
And for that
I live in a no-frill no-hot water flat
on East Houston and Third
among drug peddlers
and dirty pigeons,
who squander sidewalk space.
Share quarters with a drag queen
who does too many pills and
shakes down too many boyfriends,
with a switchblade and a toot-toot.

And at night, I sit at Shangri-la Lounge
next to an old woman
with one eye half-shut
an affliction from her youth
or too many beers? I ask her:
Did God ever ask you for your Isaac?
She lifts her highboy and gulps the dregs,
then, limping out the bar,
she drags that stiff leg
like pulling a bad child
mesmerized by an arsonist’s fire.


Kyle Hemmings has work published on Verb Sap, Rose and Thorn, Armchair Aesthete, Apollo’s Lyre, Night Train and other publications. Besides writing, he likes to cook, bake, draw cartoon art and listen to anything by Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

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