February 6, 2003

a poem by brett ralph, ex-Louisvillian who fronts rising shotgun

This Poem Has a Hole in the Middle

There are no metaphors
for what was done to her.
The six boys who pushed her off
her bike, her school books splayed
like poisoned pigeons on the pavement--

those boys are not symbolic.
They are real,
and this poem has a hole in the middle,
a hollow tree stuffed with Hustlers, deep
in the woods beyond the subdivision,

a sagging davenport
in the family room,
bathed in the blue light of late-night
television--when it went black
before your parents came back

and the babysitter got bored.
TV didn't cost anything
yet, and your options could be counted on
the fingers of one hand.
And even if you didn't want to

because you didn't understand,
even if you hated it more than anything
in the world, whatever they showed,
you had to sit through it
because you were just a child.


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