In rural America, beware
of dog signs are security

systems posted, point
blank in single pane

windows. The bullet always so much
worse than the bang.

Sometimes I imagine I never left
the fields in which I was unwelcome.

Sometimes I can still
see my father hiding

plywood riddled with rusty
nails under a bed of fall

leaves. In rural America
the warning is to draw

first blood. I remember
the ATVs with their popped

tires, the neighbors’ horses
with their tetanused hooves.

You know, friendship
is so unlikely to bloom

where you are unwanted.
My father and the land

taught me everything
about being small and quiet.

They taught me
not to want
a thing.



Though Odysseus was gone for 20 years
my sister was gone for 9

Which is almost as long
as the Trojan war. The year
my father took her was all oil spills

and counting the distance between us
with cigarettes, flipped end over end
for thousands of watery miles.

My father only loves fentanyl
and his own brass hands.

It has always been this way.

Yesterday, when my sister escaped
in the middle of the night,
she wore

black eyes
and a pillowcase
for luggage. In the morning,

my mother made
her waffles—like she would have
any other Sunday.

Kayleb Rae Candrilli is author of What Runs Over with YesYes Books, which was a 2017 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in transgender poetry. Their second collection, All the Gay Saints, won the 2018 Saturnalia Book Contest and is forthcoming in Spring 2020. You can read more of Candrilli’s work here.