Andrew K. Clark

Origin Story

When mama caught me                                  
up on my knees                                  
painting my face                                  
with her makeup,                                  
making the eye                                  

shadow curve                                  
along her boy’s                                  
cheekbones unnatural,                                  
sugar smell of                                  

powder on my fingers –                                  
I saw her reflection,                                  
in the mirror,                                  

the slap the day I tried on 
       her long red boots, my 
heel pressed in deep,
       the way I twirled the room,

delighted in the way they
       click click clicked
on the floor before
       she made me taste 

blood and see stars                                  
inside my head.                                  
The way mama sat on top                                  
of me, pushing the leather                                  

into my mouth. Mama                                  
said she’d tell my daddy                                  
when he called, mama                                  
swinging her belt, mama                                  
find her a switch. Mama                                  

said she’d make me wear 
       them high-up heels
to school, said I could
       leave my cleats at home,
wear girl heels on
       the baseball diamond. 

Oh mama so red,
       mama reaching, raging
mama come rushing
       in, so

I grabbed up the lipstick,                                  
smeared it across my                                  
face in a frown,                                  
used the pencil                                  

to draw on crazy                                              
eyebrows, said:                                                  
Mama, behold!                                  
Your son, the clown!                                  

Andrew K. Clark is a writer from Alexander, NC, outside of Asheville where he now resides. His full-length collection of poetry, Jesus in the Trailer was published by Main Street Rag Press in 2019. His poetry and short fiction have appeared recently in UCLA’s Out of Anonymityfall / lines, Scribes Valley, Good Juju, and NO: 1 journals.  He is the recipient of the Georgia Southern University Roy F. Powell Award for Creative Writing and is an MFA candidate at Converse College. He is searching for a home for his first novel, The Day Thief.