Behind Deano's In the woods behind Deano's three junked school buses ten metal drums fourteen over-turned hubcaps filled with rainwater several odd-shaped scraps of tin nothing that hasn't been beat up shot or bashed in Memories of various kids I knew: Rhoda, who died of leukemia in the fifth grade Bulldog, who beat my sister up That family called the Bug-Eyed Smiths each eye surrounded with bulging grape-blue skin Other family names: Minkler, Maylon, Perham, Blood red-eyed fathers with angry faces who drove truck Searching the dump one spring some kid ate pills and got sick Captions in the 5th grade songbook read "EaT ME" and "SUCK MY DiCK" A grimy three pound chunk of sugar came to school for a treat It lasted a week And where they lived: peeling tarpaper and water-green wood a dead pony that gassed the neighborhood till the health man had it dragged off Its bones turned up later behind Deano's with cans that once held acetone and house paint laced with lead feeding sumac that grew like mongrel palm along the valley of the almost dead
Scarboro His name had the word “scar” in it word cut from dog-teeth and edged in spit: Wyoming, sheep-herding the Round Robin bar, HOT and COLD spelled under his nipples OIL HERE with an instructional arrow pointing to his navel. A woman wound up one leg, crudely jabbed into the skin: Jessie, drawn with loving attention in India ink smuggled past the turnkey. He was the inmate I, a boy working for pay. In the woodshop, we hunched behind our pushbrooms to loaf the afternoon, watching the shadows lengthening from the lathes feeling the stories lengthening in the shadows.
Jeffrey Clapp’s poems and stories have appeared in North American Review, Blue Unicorn, Dalhousie Review, Arkansas Review, Sycamore Review and many others. He is a past recipient of the Daniel Morin Poetry Prize at UNH and the Indiana Fiction Prize from Purdue. His work has been anthologized in Best of Blueline and Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence in America. He lives in South Portland, ME.