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All Night Woman

The midnight animals
Douse themselves
Into bouts of sickness,
Chugging brown bags 
At carnival jug tosses
And radio rifle relays.
Coin-op condoms
Pressed between
Big sweating
Wads of small bills.
The virgin in one booth
Or another is the only
Virgin, over and again.
Toss the ring, shout
The weight. Just
Something to do,
Night fleshed-out
In the country—
Yet not so simple
As all this grift.


Boys watch men 
Run a slit down
A fat fish,
Heave its guts
Into the river, after.
Water creature
With whiskers,
Swung upside down from
Plastic twine; laughing,
Men cut the flesh free,
Loose, it seems to move
In the fading sun—


River warm, in evening,
Naked the kids
Deep down in
The mudded current
Touching up under
Each other, all about
Their beings
With the hands hidden,
Loose in stringy water.
Glister of gnats
About their mouths.
They slide down 
To lose the bugs’
Moving itch.


A girl swims naked
At evening, shirtless
She sits up in trees,
Alone, she feels along
With her palms
The booths’ shut steel
Ribs. Cutoffs
Hung deep below
The long jewel
In her navel—
She doesn’t know
If she’ll let him.
Her boy is as good
As he’s bad, stealing
Father’s truck
& the gun
Out a closet to poach.

And scared of it,
When he’s used up
The thick money
Gone, she knows she’ll care,
And that she won’t want to.
And that she’ll want to.
Posted 02/05/13
Poem originally published in Indiana Review.
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