Steve Young

three poems


Robert’s wife would come
over to our trailer
almost every night after dark

Me and my brother would lie
in the bunk-beds and listen
to her crying loudly
while our mother prayed
for her even louder

We asked my mother about
this and she explained
in horrifying detail that Robert
had put his thing inside
a two-year old boy’s butt
a lot

But when he was finally caught
the stupid police let him go
because they could not prove it

Soon after that talk
me and my brother were running
through the trailer park
to the bus stop

We had to hurry to make the
bus when an old blue
and silver pick-up screeched to a halt
in front of us and Robert jumped out

We didn’t stop running
but cut left through a row of tall bushes
that separated the trailer court from
an empty field

We didn’t get far
before Robert was right behind us

When I saw my brother almost disappear
inside his beard I kept running

But when I looked
back and saw my brother’s brand new
tennis shoes flailing
wildly and then vanishing
through the row of tall bushes
I stood still and screamed

Mel’s New Job

I hadn’t seen Mel for years
but now she was divorced and back from Europe
working for the police

I went with Jimmy to meet her
at a coffee shop in the early morning

She drove up in a white van that said
she was still very pretty

She had blue eye shadow on and
her hair was down to her shoulders. It looked good
on her

We got our coffees and sat outside
so I could smoke

Mel started telling
us about her job. She worked as an evidence collector
for the Phoenix P.D.

At first she told funny stories about
perps and victims and the strange photographs
she had taken of them

All for evidence, of course
but she started to keep copies for her own personal
photo album

Jimmy and I laughed when she told of
the woman who’s husband had shoved a slice
of pizza up her ass

And the story about the man who had pooped
himself to death
with laxatives and Ziploc bags full of the stuff
scattered around the house and even kept
in Styrofoam ice-chests was

But the way Mel told it was hilarious

We laughed and drank
our coffee and pressed her for details
while the stories became more bizarre

When she got to the story of the man
who had hung himself from
a bread-cart behind a grocery store
Jimmy and I started
to stop laughing

The guy was easily a foot taller than the cart

He had to hold his legs up and let himself strangle
slowly and Mel’s prize picture was
of this man dead, hanging
from a bread-cart behind a grocery store
with his hand forever frozen
in a single finger

I thought of the rage and
balls it would take to hang
yourself from something
twelve inches shorter than
you and the effort required
to make sure you flipped
off the world in the process

Mel laughed but it wasn’t her normal
pretty laugh and I hoped that she would find
a new job soon

Crucified On a Dollar Sign

The bottles are shaped
like a shit-eating scowl
as he sits on the floor
dissecting Lucy’s Fur Coat

He pisses in the sink
and acknowledges the face
in the mirror

Good to see you again

Coughing and coughing
from inhaling a black
and mild cigar that a one
night stand’s husband left
behind when he came by
teary eyed searching for an explanation

He has to inhale it
there are no cigarette
ends left and the money
was gone even before the shakes

Yes yes quit
the job and quit
the wife and quit
the writing What in the
world did they ever do for you

Throw away the pictures
and throw away the light bulbs
and throw away the television
and throw away the conveniences
that try to make you like everyone else

But keep the bottles just
in case someone stops
by they can see you are not like them
at all

And keep the books
so they can all dig how well
read you really are

And though suicide is
for cowards don’t forget to
cut your chest
with broken glass
so they can appreciate
how truly troubled you have become

Good to see you again

There now see
he is poor and alone
again finally able to play
the martyr he’s practiced at
for so long

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