Kyle McCord

[when you've been scoutmaster as long as I have]

When you’ve been scoutmaster
as long as I have,
every fire is a child
with blueberry stains on its lips.
Every cheesecake stomped by surly mares,
an animal exposé of the sleeziest order
just waiting to be filmed.
When the ghost of Thurgood Marshall
comes waltzing into your office
like some liquored-up jackhammer,
you’ve got bigger places to be—
at the top of a pine,
or perfecting marching orders
for the third plastic infantry.
The rumors about the tiny Christmas lights
lodged in my soul are true.
Even on foggy nights,
this illumination threatens to combust
all I hold dear.
When I turned to the American Cougar
Appreciation Society for help,
I anticipated more fang-gnashing
carcass-dragging action.
But you seem nice.
When you’ve been scoutmaster
as long as I have,
you can tell a good one.
These merit badges
practically pin themselves.
On long nights, the campsite
appears one big ghost town,
with you forever cast
as the one halfway
decent boutonniere.

Kyle McCord is the author of three books of poetry including Sympathy from the Devil, which is forthcoming from Gold Wake Press in 2013. He has work featured in Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, Third Coast and elsewhere. He’s the co-founder of LitBridge and co-edits iO: A Journal of New American Poetry. He’s a teaching fellow at the University of North Texas in Denton.