[Sneer]

[Sneer]

[Sneer] 1280 853 Raphael Maurice

With each oyster-like gob that comes de profundis,
with phlegm that coats the side of my hatchback,
I feel disdain, but for life now.
I sneer and smoke like a poolhall bitch.
I sneered too when I was asked to snitch on boys
who beat off in bathroom stalls.
You could hear them, their final squalls.
They rested their heads on desks in math.
It was after lunch, then home where there was a cold
bath waiting for their backs to receive strokes
of leather belts. I think of them.
I smoke and think of Aaron, his right arm
vacuumed off in a combine. He was reported
not to have cried out but fetched his ruined limb.
The boy carried it back to the farmhouse. How he’d smoke in stalls.
How the crows that day must have spread like India
ink, their caws from tree to tree.
How different everything must have been.
Standing on the corner of this and that.
I wear a Stetson and pull down on my hat and wait for a stranger to pass
by. I still get paranoid when I get high. I touch both arms
with both hands. Like some ruined, rained-on puzzle,
there are pieces missing. I walk, light up,
and think of boys running through the gym, high
as kites, singing something about rubber and glue, their high-tops squealing
above this impossible brightness.

Header photograph © Ricky Garni.

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