He didn’t wish anyone well (JR Walsh)

The boy was born without wishes
not ambition
he had plenty of that
just wishes
& it didn’t matter for years

Then the time came when the boy needed them
he needed the wishes
you see
his parents were on the wrong side of an issue
something involving curfews or portion size
it didn’t matter which
but what mattered was
how much it mattered at the time

By the age of twelve & a half
he decided to cut them down
they wished
his parents
they wished
for a peaceful future
for patience
& education
& safety
& art
& for health
& for fire with no carbon
for oceans sleeping sound
for children’s children’s children to sing like bells
for hunger to lose its definition
for compassion to convert passion
for religions to minister peace
for competition to fuel kindness
& for wishes to be fulfilled by grace
with grace
in greater detail like paint strokes from a universal love
like a hand out of a steel cage
like a warm knitted grandmother

Quite a linguist in the heart of his head
the boy was desperate as cold scissors
I will vote someday
he swore
& he swore

You’d think he’d say
I wish I was never

echo born
but he couldn’t
you’d think he’d say
I wish I was
born with at least one wish

But he couldn’t
because he’d been born with zero swimming wishes
you don’t just get one one day
you know
puberty brought many surprises but no genies
so no wishes
so he slept on confusing pillows

He could still dream he hadn’t been born
his dream grew gray whiskers that itched
but he couldn’t shave them off
who needs wishes when you’ve got dreams
the sex alone
though there was way more death
himself in versions
he could still dream a tree would plant him
a well would drink him
a stone would kiss him
a bronze dog would rub his nose
a shopping mall would cover him in wet pennies


JR Walsh is the Online Editor at The Citron Review. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Boise State University, where he now teaches English as a Second Language. His writing is in beloved publications such as New World WritingLitroJukedNUNUMHobartFRiGGBlink-InkBullB O D Y, and Esquire. For more: itsjrwalsh.com


image: Megan Ní