Brad G. Garber

Family Confession

Come on, Bub

my father the physician

deer hunter said

when he walked in the door.


Deer got hit.

I secretly admired

his criminal exploits:

removing the plug, loading

six shells instead of three;

spotting the moose

from the bush plane;

poaching the deer.

And I, expected

to shine like silver—

“Little Doc.”

A few miles out of town

in a roadside ditch

the dead deer

fresh kill broken bones.

A crime to collect remains—

we looked each way

until

total darkness hid complicity

darkness that remains.


Identity Theft

My existence is proscribed by paper and plastic.  I am hemmed in by Wells Fargo/Visa debit card, REI Visa card and American Express card.  They keep me honest and wanting.  When I go to this place called “home,” I record the receipt from the grocery and Liquor Store #158.  Things keep us here, my wife and me.  Stamps, of course, for paying bills by using paper.  And, of course, paper checks to disperse my money with.  Because I told one bank I would pay it for revolving credit, it gave me $75 on a gift card, to blow at REI and I will, of course, spend more than $75 when I use it.  My healthcare dental insurance card snuggles next to my Shell Oil credit card, which is smooth from use, like my aging teeth.  Then, the State Farm Insurance card, thin as paper, slips behind my Oregon State Bar and Washington State Bar membership cards, just as useful.  I have my Open Water Diver Certification card and, of course, my Divers Alert Network insurance card which may fund a fake set of lungs after I’m swept off to Fiji.  My passport card will prove that I’m a citizen at the next Burner party.  And, just in case I can’t find a bathroom at the Shell station, down the street, I have a backup bathroom card issued by Chevron/Texaco.  I can even fill up the truck with gas!  I found my Palomino rewards card, which can be used at Henry’s, where my daughter works.  I’ve never eaten there.  And for my recurrent plantar warts, I have the business card for Flanders Pharmacy, where I can get “magic cream,” to fry the shit out of the warts.  Next to my 2013 Democratic National Committee membership card, fittingly, is my membership card to the Naturist Society (Motto: “Go Barefoot, All Over”).  The DNC card won’t be renewed until 2016, out of principle; the Naturist Society membership is religiously renewed each year.  There are, of course, the Delta Sky Miles and Hawaiian Miles cards; I’m hoping to cash in before they declare bankruptcy.  My Costco and QFC cards will apparently save me something if I ever shop there.  I have a business card from Oceans Apart Restaurant, in Lincoln City, because I want to buy one of their woodcuts.  My cherished Team Red Lizard card makes me think I can still run, so I keep it, sort of like a memory.  The Crimson Phoenix business card may be the last thing left of the man who can, allegedly, sniff out the best aroma to dab on your skin, if you want to ramp up the pheromones. And, of course, that’s right behind the Jefferson Street Cinema discount card that you get to use if you want to have fun in the chained-off “couples” area, while watching naked bodies on the big screen.  You just never know what will happen when you go to Voodoo Donuts, a block away.  My business cards are nestled next to the two Megabucks lottery tickets that, I hope will release me from professional servitude.  

And, finally, there’s the pen.

Brad Garber has degrees in biology, chemistry and law. He writes, paints, draws, photographs, and hunts for mushrooms and snakes in the Great Northwest. Since 1991, he has published poetry, essays and weird stuff in such publications as Edge Literary Journal, Pure Slush, Front Range Review, Tulip Tree Publishing, Sugar Mule, Third Wednesday, Barrow Street, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Barzakh Magazine, Ginosko Journal, Junto Magazine, Slab, Panoplyzine, Split Rock Review, Smoky Blue Literary Magazine, The Offbeat and other quality publications. He was a 2011, 2013 and 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee.