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photo credit A. Pittam

He tells you he would kill you

and you think of the early boys

you kissed at recess on playgrounds

and ball courts. Imagine them now,

rough bodies grown lean; studied

at the choke, pin, and meat of girls.

Hands, stubborn and impossibly strong;

mouths sharp as scorpions. At least one,

probably, a bona fide rapist and the others,

masters in the sport of taming women

too wild for caging. You taste them

in the bars after work, air thick

with testosterone, whistle, guffaw.

The bellow of each voice hammering

a waitress into flushed bustle and unease.

Smell their brawn under work shirts

and loose-laced boots. Their eyes

shrink-wrap you small; leers, potent

enough to unfasten a dress. They

crack their lips to show a slice of teeth,

offer a calculated nod. You sink

into a beer and beg a new god to vanish

you. Quell the spear of your tongue

lest it ignite the waiting landmine

of their brotherhood. You know

what it is to be hurled sticky-backed

to a barroom floor, men’s room stall,

musty flatbed of a diesel truck.

Most of your years spent reckless

as a speedway, full of Southern Comfort

and colorful pills. You are no stranger

to feral heat, the pull of a shotgun, the holy

blaze of welt, cracked tooth, rug burn,

a row of tequila and salt. Carnal things.

Now you are forty and your teeth

are stained purple from wine. Those boys

who grew into men who grew into monsters

have forgotten your name. The only thing

left is to finish the bottle, smile and nod.


Originally appeared in The Journal.

photo credit A. Pittam

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