Robert Joe Stout

Eight-Year-Old on a Speedboat


Through hot white glare

heard his best friend's father laugh

syllables like gun bursts

from his stance behind the wheel

saw his best friend's face

absorb the shrapnel

of rough and tumble compliments

so different from his father's

abstract murmurings,

his mother's

fragile health.


The laugh again,

a burst of speed,

horizons swerved and disappeared,

the hurtling past

of spray and clouds


his best friend's mother's

thrust back gasp,

best friend's sister

clinging to her cap,


coral cliffs

pounding so hard 

he couldn't breathe

all by himself in spacelessness


then tilting deck,

rainbows of wet,


his best friend's glance

like his, enlarged, afraid.

Robert Joe Stout's fiction and poetry has appeared in the anthologies Southwest, New Southern Poetry, and Survivors of the Invention. A novel, Miss Sally, was published by Bobbs-Merrill and another, Running Out the Hurt, in 2012 by Black Rose. He also has published the nonfiction books Why Immigrants Come to America and Blood of the Serpent: Mexican Lives from Praeger and Algora respectively. He currently lives in Oaxaca, Mexico.



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