Shirts or Skins, a 2014 poetry chapbook by Jim Redmond

Do Not Pass Go

Plum-gutted afternoon / the stent at the heart of collapse / rag and bone way of finding

Interstate / 220 / open like a jackknife.

Three of them:
a boy a girl and a boy.
It’s hard to tell which boy is which
or whether the girl will arrange them

He lets the other boy drive.

There is something of the fear of God still left
in his decisions.

the girl,
she’s been almost pregnant
or something just as bad
her entire life,

in the backseat she lets him inside

Empty stomach under the / slow bob of street lights / this is his face stretched over / the whole din of wet pavement / then there’s this barely audible world / they’ve checked the pay phone / for loose change / what of the distance and for how long?

conversations left stranded on bathroom walls
for years the word “cock” will go unanswerable

everyone seems either too tired or too poor

He has had the power of positive thinking / beat into him by infomercials / only 18 / he’s thinking / somewhere / in this god-bless America / there is still a wheat field / that needs / a good threshing

but he can’t remember why / or the last honest / thing his hands / have been into.

She wonders / how much / of her life captured / on a disposable camera.

In Wyoming the only radio station for 200 miles
is on the fritz—
something about angels … ricin …
the proliferation … of
drones …
giving up … the flesh …

They have heard that story before.
The terrorists have already won.

The boys have been / awake all night / and she hasn’t slept since Ohio / the $2.23 he digs out of his pocket and puts on the counter for a 3 dollar pack of Cheyennes is more of a challenge / than a plea.


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