don winter | even the dead are growing old | 4 poems

Marcella’s Fantasy House

Nights at this place
he drank beer after beer.
His gut rolled
like a melon on the felt.
He said he could beat any of us
and mostly he was right. He played us
for quarters so he could feed
his thing for Hank and Willie
on the one juke box.

Paydays he wanted his winnings
in shots, so he could get drunk enough
to visit this redhead dancer
at the stage. He put nearly all
his pay between her breasts, then he kissed
the bruised air, because he knew,
like we did, that was all of her

he was going to have. Then he sat
by himself on a stool
and punched the air, a round against
the guy who stole
his old lady in Tuscaloosa, one against
the foreman we hated at the plant.
Against the no new love
and the no new luck
and every night nothing
he hadn’t seen before.


she had a body
that had been a few places—
back from only some

Saturday Night Desperate

We talked about it at the time clock
while we waited to punch in,
how it must have been the moon
and the radiator whiskey
brought us to her those Saturday nights,
and how the dog with the bowling ball
head barked from her front porch, back legs braced
to charge, front legs braced to turn
and retreat, and how she came hard
out that door hung from one low
hinge and was on you, smelling
of possum, with slick hair and a cunt
with whiskers stiff enough to grate cheese,
and how she pitched her head back, buttoned
those green eyes and shook out punk

birdcalls under her shower cap, and how
we took turns with her in the outhouse,
the door swung half open, the lime scented life
of the toilet seeping through
the half-moon cut in one wall, and we nodded
each other daft, winked and said she’s all that
and a bag of chips, or something like,
and what we left out was the only
thing true: how she laid back when she finished
with us, yawned like some cat
curled in the pocket of a threadbare afternoon

Strip Bar: Hamtramck

On CR-4 in Michigan
the goddamn of music
was going on.
The dancer came out
dangling money carelessly.
She looked at our faces
as if they were small tips.
Christ she was beautiful
when she danced out of her clothes.
All her bones floating in milk.
Sweetheart, the others called her.

Honey. Doll. For each of them
she smiled. I envied how
she let the backs of their hands linger
at the very top of her thigh.
When she finally came to me,
I stuck a dollar bill
where my eyes had been.
Her face had the alert sleepiness
of a cat’s. She smiled
vacantly, moved on to the next dollar.
I drifted into the night air.
The lights on my rigged pushed
the dark aside, moved me
towards no house, towards no one waiting.

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