poet Russell Thornton

Russell Thornton

Nogales Prostitutes

All I could do while I stood there
dazed in the dim bare room
was wonder why the price of one
was five dollars more than the others.
The three sat down and faced me
in a line, nearly indistinguishable,
legs tucked in at their sides,
leaning on the heels of their hands.
All were lolling and demure,
junior high school cheerleaders
on a gym floor of rough boards,
trying to look kittenish, cute -
but pockmarked, sick-looking,
counting out their smiles,
and hiding in their pupils,
perfect glinting pictures
of a blackness that plunged me
into a strange sadness,
as if I had recognized
something I could not remember
but was desperate to return to.
I asked the man at his bar
with the rifle lying beside him
if he would sell me a bottle of brandy,
the amount of my offer higher
than the cost of the expensive girl.
I had one drink, and left the bottle,
and walked out into the afternoon,
the light glassy-red like a candy heart.
The rutted road now sifted me,
each particle of dirt a skull's eyehole,
the pure depth of a gaze
robbing me of any direction I knew.

Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Poem Edited: Friday, September 15, 2006

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