Brian McGuigan

Blood Brothers


I loved Run-DMC and my fake gold two-finger ring
a dollar sign stretched over white, dry knuckles.
I spun on old cardboard boxes in your basement
until I vomited pork fried rice on your mother’s
chancletas. I broke your brother’s favorite Ice-T record,
“Cop Killer.” I kissed your sister when you were at summer
school, and we had nothing else to do but curse
and throw cockroaches on each other. I stole strawberries
from the Korean market because you weren’t allowed
in after the owner, a little m__erf__er with a mustache,
caught you—that was when you’d first taught me m__erf__er.
I was “Rocky” until I got my front teeth busted.
Your brother was “Scarface” until he was arrested
and sent upstate. You were “Do the Right Thing”
until you didn’t. There was that kid who got hit
by a car each spring. The old lady with her hair
in rollers except on Sundays. That was when we’d play
sponge ball off the cement wall. You spray-painted
the box—our strike zone—while I would electrical tape
around the stick. There was a sick obsession
with “Street Fighter II” and Chung Li’s spinning leg kick.
There was a two-liter of Coke that we shared
like second-hand smoke. There was the time your mother,
drunk, stuck her hands in our shorts to see how we’d grown.
You showed me how to keep my Jordans clean
with hot water and a stiff toothbrush. You told me
girls were cold as booths at McDonalds when one
broke my heart like a bottle rocket that won’t burn.
I remember when you and I slept in the same bed,
when your sheets were G.I. Joe until your mother
turned the light off, and the gunfire ceased.


“Blood Brothers” previously appeared in City Arts Magazine.


Born in Queens, NY, Brian McGuigan currently writes in Seattle, WA. He is the curator of the popular reading series, “Cheap Wine and Poetry” and “Cheap Beer and Prose,” and the Program Director at Richard Hugo House. In 2010, McGuigan was shortlisted for The Stranger’s Genius Award in Literature, and in 2008, he was a fellow in the Jack Straw Writers Program. Spankstra Press published his chapbook of poetry, “More Than I Left Behind,” in 2006. His poetry and writing have appeared in City Arts, Seattle Magazine, Rivet Magazine, Filter Literary Journal, Slipstream and others.