Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 10
Fall 2014

[Two Poems]

by Jeff Walt

After a Fight

Anger scours the house, filling 
his dark sack with our antique
laughter, our precious mornings in bed, the silver
evenings in the hammock. Nothing left
but the sharp words we keep locked
in our mouths and the hard, unforgiving
chairs where we pretend to read. 
When I look up, you look up, and we know
something is missing. We stay that way 
for a moment, like two people who have heard 
a strange noise outside late at night: our eyes 
fear-fired—ready to strike if we have to.
—Received First Place in the Prose Ax Poetry Competition (13 January 2003); reprinted here with author’s permission


Little assassins attack my nap while I sway
in the shaded hammock: yelling, stalking up 
on each other, crawling on their stomachs.
Each loud voice shoots across, the lawn echoes, 
they’ve invaded each tree and shrub, and suddenly
Geronimo! they dive 
from a porch banister, Burger King crowns 

crushed, grass-scraped knees. One boy presses 
a plastic gun to another temple; some swing 

cardboard swords, cut off each other’s heads.
Flies scavenge plates of chicken bones, 
half-eaten burgers and melted ice cream. I try to rest.  
But can’t take my eyes 
from the slumped, the half-eaten cake,

boys with grins stabbing at it,
animal they’ve hunted and taken down. 



SHJ Issue 10
Fall 2014

Jeff Walt

was born in 1967 and raised in rural Pennsylvania. His chapbook Soot was co-winner of the Keystone Chapbook Prize and published in 2010 by Seven Kitchens Press. He’s been awarded writing residencies from The MacDowell Colony, The Djerassi Resident Artist Program, The Vermont Studio Center, and Kalani on the The Big Island of Hawaii.

His poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Alligator Juniper, The Sun, Cream City Review, The Ledge, and The Gay & Lesbian Review. Several poems from Soot were scored by composer David Sisco and will be performed on November 14th at Carnegie Hall.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury