Robert James Russell

After a Long Day at Work, He Contemplates a Vasectomy (and the Western Interior Seaway)

God’s honest truth: He wants this museum 
to himself, no hollering kids. Interloper
he mouths at a brassy child touching 
a glass case, leaving fat fingerprints. 
In the next room, three dinosaur 
skeletons sit idle as crackling children 
break the rope barrier 
and boom toward them
while their tired teachers
look at watches, tug at humid-thick 
updos, delirious delirious
No way 
He could have one. No, he barely has a relationship 
with his brother, whose wife died suddenly,
who wouldn’t let him in 
(though he could’ve done more). 
But what’s the point? Once, Nebraska 
was nothing but ocean, a vast sea 
stretching from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico, 
and they say we’re headed back 
to that doom, that the Melt 
is coming and we’ll have to navigate 
by boat. 
Imagine that, 
all the harbors, 
those ships pouring in. 
How would they find each other?
what they’d even talk about there 
at the end of the world. 
Anyway, he could always swim.

Robert James Russell is the author of the novellas Mesilla (Dock Street Press) and Sea of Trees (Winter Goose Publishing), and the chapbook Don't Ask Me to Spell It Out (WhiskeyPaper Press). He is a founding editor of the literary journals Midwestern Gothic (co-founder) and CHEAP POP (founder). You can find him online at