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Jeffrey Hecker

My Cambodian Exchange Parents

Cassava farmers Khmara and Pagna's lawnmower broke mid-mow mid-May.
I was pushing.   Tradition dictates the family grandmother fix it.  
She meditated two weeks, surveyed from the wildlife sanctuary she volunteered.  
She crouched two weeks around the ATCO Petrol kick-start, 
backpack overrun by hoses, coils, washers, nuts.  
She showed off a hip holster for the screwdriver.  
Vegetation and her hair grew unconditional.  
The motor used to crank like the .22 Caliber Steampunk 
Gatling Gun Khmara held to my nasolacrimal duct as the community fixated 
on grandma's expertise.  She mentioned Rosmarinic acid, pointed at my forehead.  
Everybody clapped two weeks.  I joined along, continued all Friday night, precognitive 
dreams of a glitch-free June mow completed over my bones, beneath this very soil, 
by an 87-year-old frigatebird enthusiast. 

My Hungarian Exchange Parents


Invited via real straw-draw to live in neighbor's catacomb 
where less full cloth diapers draped leaky lead pipe.  

Told the backyard chicken I'd been on a mission from Ohio. 
After I killed her, I'd reroute my position to Ohio, doubly 

refund my congregation's collection plate money I used 
on jet fare, whatever sweatshirt gave me the most 

athletic shoulders, and signal flares.  Each market visited, 
serious breadwinners sold signal flares.  It seemed right to buy 

a dozen a trip.  I stored explosives in loose chimney bricks 
knowing Sandor and Nefuber would never start a fire 

all winter, and if they did the entire village would see light 
prisms or heavy prison sentences, one perhaps the first time.  

Two minutes allotted to confess to that clucking beak 
they made me behead with a broken flashlight then dance 

the skinny neck in a precise zigzag configuration important 
culturally only to a relative who died of a cold trying to 

enter or escape yet getting lodged in his mistress's window, 
October 1814.  

Nobody knows why or how the pattern relates.  
"Was he floundering in the sill long?" I asked.  

From the dinner guests' eyebrow alignment, I knew 
my answer: more than days.  All sorts of fingers 

rose high, many bent, curled, webbed, twisted, too long, 
too short.  Everybody counted ambidextrous.

My American Exchange Parents

Marcus and Jenna comparison-shopped detergents on a 42-inch monitor. 

The computer could speak naturally 
in Gregory Peck's voice 
using his digitally-restored diphthongs. 

Neither knew the function existed until Jenna discovered it looking for pornography.

I collated laser-printed coupons by store to driveway proximity. 

Productive if production meant only our 
torsos moved.

Most worn half a night, unmentionables in the hamper remained spotless.

Our devotion to preparation to soak then dry fabric that wasn't soiled --
more than enough reason to hang us in frontier time courts, 
or 65 other present-day global countries.

Three of eight shower sprays shot scalding water from floor tile between my cheeks.
I'm not talking about my face.  It wasn't a mistake.  It was contracted.

Jeffrey Hecker was born in 1977 in Norfolk, Virginia. He's the author of Rumble Seat (San Francisco Bay Press, 2011) and the chapbooks Hornbook (Horse Less Press, 2012), Instructions for the Orgy (Sunnyoutside Press, 2013), and Before He Let Them Guide Sleigh (ShirtPocket Press, 2013). Recent work has appeared in Mascara Literary Review, Atticus Review, La Fovea, Zocalo Public Square, The Burning Bush 2, LEVELLER, Spitoon and Similar:peaks. He holds a degree from Old Dominion University. He resides with his wife Robin.

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