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  You could have a big dipper   

Guilt by Association by Robert Pegel

CW: death references

The psychic told my wife how our son

loves that we still leave his sneakers

right inside by the front entrance door

of the house.

They are Brooks size nine

from when he ran cross country.

He died in his sleep at age sixteen.

We’re not sure if running had anything

to do with his death

since he didn’t die while running.

But he did have a swollen foot

from running in the few days

leading up to his death.

The coach and trainer had him sit out

a few days from this injury.

The night to morning he died

it rained all day Friday

and was raining Saturday morning.

I took him to the bus stop

on Friday morning since it was raining hard.

He complained to me in the car

that his foot was hurting badly and he even

popped a few over-the-counter Naproxen

before leaving the house.

I told him to take the day off

if he was in pain.

He insisted on going to school.

He said he hated making up


On Saturday morning

we let him sleep in.

He never woke up.

Now I hate cross country

and Friday and Saturday.

And even wonder about the side effects

of Naproxen and hate it.

All guilty by association.

Connected to a tragic event.

Part of the never ending


Everything is to blame

when there are no answers.


Robert Pegel has been published in The Madrigal, The Remington Review, Trouvaille Review, Lothlorien Poetry, Ariel Chart, Grand Little Things, The Pangolin Review, Goat's Milk, The Galway Review, A New Ulster, Unique Poetry and others. He has work forthcoming in 433 Magazine, Resurrection Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly and Mason Steet. He lives in Andover, NJ with his wife, Zulma and their Min Pin dog, Chewy. Twitter @bobopegs

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