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To My Younger Self, Who Begged For an Alf Poster

Jack Garcia III

JJ, do you remember unwrapping

that Alf poster one Christmas in California?—

back when Christmases involved real trees

but fake snow—not like the frosted Wasatch

that holds you in today, those mountains

disappearing into bright, colorless sky;

a smudged pencil drawing, half-erased

on toothy artist’s paper.

JJ, do you remember fearing

the thunderous night, light ripping across

Alf’s puppet-snout in the dark—rounded teeth

leering bone-white and dull? You screamed

and your father appeared, tore down

the poster-monster, held you close—

the smell of aftershave on his neck—drove

you to McDonald’s in the morning for hot

cakes and to play in the ball pit. Remember

sinking in slow-motion, letting round, primary

colors envelop you until everything

was dim with stillness? Don’t be afraid;

paper mountains will not fail you,

your father’s arms take many forms,

and the taped-up sky hangs dark with promise,

as if on pause, as you leap up and out

into the blinding future.