Marble Run Christmas

Michael Fertik​

Even the way I virtue signal virtue signals.


I write the story of the marble run construction 

the minute my kids go to bed 

and click send to publish 

in a litmag that knows today’s manhood is 

dadding to daughters 

over boy-profiled erector sets.  


Every Flex Track I conjoin, 

every Paddle Switch we mount, 

each Xylophone Ball Trap we giggle 

through attaching brings me one step closer 

to the I-thou (little “t,” that’s wassup) 

serenity the HR department says the 

World Economic Forum has modeled 

for ideal male executive leadership.  



on any given Wednesday, 

pop the Chaos Tower video selfie up on the ‘Gram, 

gather round my phone in the lunchroom 

in case you missed me coaching the girls 

on their engineering jawns.  


Oooh, that’s right, 

righteous dad, 

male influence figure sitting on the floor 

in jeans assembling the future 

from furnished plastic pieces 

with two girls wearing purple pink dresses 

because they can do that, too.  


The marbles strike the B Bell on the way down, 

and if you bend your ear, 

you can hear it chime “Not Me Too.”  

“Yeah, they’re up on Minecraft, 

and when a lemon drops from the tree 

outside the kitchen, 

we do the Newton dance, 

you haven’t seen that video?  

Lemme show you.”  

Go ahead.  Seriously, please do it: ask me 

about the ethnicity of the youngest you see 

in the foreground.


Not a soul in this house cares about marbles.  

That was mom before she died.  

It’s after midnight now.  

I’m supine 

on the living room floor looking 

at the bum turn 

on the tower where the marbles fall 

off half the time 

and the Catch Basket that bounces them 

out half the time 

and wondering which of us will fix everything.

Michael Fertik is a published fiction author, poet, produced film writer, and playwright. His poetry, short fiction, and novellas have recently appeared in Minor Lits; december; The Write Launch; Eclectica; Litro; Cease, Cows; Feminine Collective; etc.. His writing has won fiction, poetry, and film prizes and includes a New York Times Bestseller. He lives in Palo Alto, California.