Broken Sonnet for the Winter
I Worked as a Roofer

by Peter Mason


On Clinton, we angled our tear bars
at the shingles on the peak. It was January but not

as cold as it should have been. Delvin took his hammer
to the nails left on the rafters—the ones that would penetrate

our hands. Breath caught
in the early light. He said, If I ever see a faggot, I’ll take

my hammer to the side of their head like a melon. His laugh,
a heavy vapor that dissipated. The other men

smoked on the far side of the roof’s valley. Later,
when the cedar gave way to dust beneath me, when I fell

and clung to the beam, his hand grabbed at my back
and pulled. It’s a funny thing

to thank a man who would kill you. Just a couple of hours before,
the sun was still rising as we set the ladders.

Peter Mason is a Bi+ poet from Rochester, NY. He received a BA from SUNY Fredonia and is currently an MFA student in poetry at the University of Arkansas. His poetry was selected as Runner-Up in Epiphany: A Literary Journal’s 2017 Spring Contest judged by Patricia Smith, and has appeared in The Journal, Vinyl, Muzzle, and elsewhere. He is the Development Director of The Arkansas International and a co-curator of the Open Mouth Reading Series.