by Gary Charles Wilkens

yThe house is probably now a vacant lot of flattened grass
and loose dirt, or maybe they've built a laundrymat,
or a catfish house, but on that night of no stars it was
a junked white house next to factories on a highway
of fast food joints, pawn shops and empty groceries.

It was past midnight and you were drunk of course,
as was your sock-faced friend and the coarse men
who hung around and liked poor, easy women,
all pick-up truck and belt buckle and beer can,
as was the woman who beat you, punching you
repeatedly around the dull linoleum.
She was smaller but meaner, pissed at you
for your smart sexy tongue-
you a soft balloon under small fists.

You could have stopped her, or at least gotten
my sister, the twins and I out of the room,
so we didn't see our mother get her ass kicked,
didn't have to stand like cracked statues,
a rain of little fists, hooks in fish mouths, spines
in buckets of ice while you took punches and got up,
a beached whale while a drunk bitch pounded.
I don't know how it ended. The house no longer stands.


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