January 2006 /Volume Seven / Issue One
George Anderson
Cold Turkey

One winter evening
in an alcoholic haze
after my mother died of a
sudden massive heart attack
at the age of forty-seven
the old man
THUMPS on my bedroom door
& asks- I suppose demands

‘You hungry?’

In the kitchen
he scoops out
a large turkey
from the freezer
& whacks it into the oven–
and turns the temperature up to 450

he has been drinking for two or three days

As we wait for the turkey to cook
the conversation is circular
every 20 minutes or so
he glances up at me and slurs–

‘You think you’re smart?
you don’t know fuck all!’

the old man sits there in his white singlet
his eyes dissolving in his head
the smell of spew brewing on his parched breath

& later clockwork like he  asks
flexing his right bicep
steeled by years of foundry work:

‘You think you’re tough? Feel this!’

It is rock hard
I try to crush the muscle with my soft teenage hands
I can only get them half way around

He takes another drag from his Players Export cigarettes
& coughs furiously
his lungs puncturing


I set the alarm
& wake at  4 AM

As expected
The old man is lying face first
under the kitchen table
snoring in a rhythmic but shaky rattle
his left arm his pillow

his pants pissed


Our huge mongrel cat
Thomas Reef Redback
is most content for nearly a week–

the old man in the early mornings
flinging him
half raw portions
from the big bird’s inner core