Sunday Best by Len Kuntz

We are busy having photos taken,
busy being still as totems,
our parents seated in the middle of their brood
like elderly hippie royalty
though we know better,
though we are each sharper than people give us credit.

Dressed in our Sunday Best,
we resemble dime store mannequins
made from faulty plastic molds,
mom’s blonde wig a mass of hair-sprayed waves,
dad’s hair a flat matt of porcupine quills,
all of us something we’re not again.

The photographer is a fastidious ant man,
telling us how to smile and stand,
which way to tilt our chins,
how the backlighting will create shadows
if we aren’t able to hold ourselves together.

Just last week one of us was
a runaway, a soldier and a felon,
a bad poet, two wrestlers, and four abused siblings
quaking in a shroud of defenseless skin.

But today our grins are fashioned with see-through plaster,
our arms hung low like chimps so that no one
—not the photographer,
or those who will view this picture years later—
is able to see our hands,
some scarred, but all fisted tight.

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State, an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans, and the author of I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE AND NEITHER ARE YOU out now from Unknown Press. You can also find him at

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