makers of fine labels since 1915

there’s this one scene
in all the best monster movies
right before the final reel

when, through some naive
or empathetic act, the monster
shows it has worth, despite
how the world has labeled it.

notice I said monster, not horror.
there’s no withdrawn, morally superior
hero to consider here.
though it’s true we are sometimes heroic,

the director knows we self-identify as monsters
and he’s betting we’ve lived our lives
waiting for that one scene


that summer it seemed

heat lightning lit up the horizon
almost every night
but no rain came to give us release

we’d watch the flashes of orange and purple
from our backyards
then talk about it the next day

at the pool – we were always at the pool
edging ourselves toward the deep end
where you could sometimes catch a cool current

we’d talk about the lit up sky, then movies
how James Bond took out Goldfinger
but not about what he did to Pussy Galore

and when you pulled yourself out of the water
to execute a dive off the board
my eyes were filled with your golden skin

and when we changed in the locker room
I caught a glimpse of your privates
before dropping my eyes to your feet

and that night when we had a sleepover
you fell asleep before me
and I wished your dreams would move you closer

we didn’t talk about the rain when
it finally did arrive.
what’s rain compared to lightning’s seduction?


signal-to-noise ratio

in the hotel shower
shampoo scent transports me
to a field I once dreamt

they’ve taken my father’s voice
left him writhing on a bed
having removed half his breath
to repel an invasion of gray

old field I wish I could
live beside you and watch
each day cover you in sun –
in cloud shadows – in snow

the walk to the hospital is quiet
there’s palm trees on the corner

my face is just a blur
on the badge they make me wear


Craig Kittner was born in Canton, Ohio in 1968 and took up residence in Wilmington, North Carolina in 2012. Between those two events, he lived in 14 different towns in 8 states and the District of Columbia. He has worked as a gallery director, magazine writer, restaurant owner, and blackjack dealer. Craig is fond of birds, cats, and rain . . . but rarely writes of cats.