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Aubade in a Red State

      Red like the fanned tail of the half-starved hawk mantling
over a cat, twelve weeks deep in drought, beak wet
      with the eye's sweet rot, the liver. Red like the dirt
blown loose from thirst-gagged roots, twisting in little devils
      over brittle grass. Red like the contrails' lit cords burning
across the faces of the final stars, red like the sun's chapped
      smile come bleeding back from its respite. Red like the singlet
the boy wears under a sweatshirt under a black plastic bag
      as he sprints every stairway in the stadium before weigh-in
trying to shuck enough sweat from his flesh to let him wrestle
      smaller boys. Red like the diet pills that make him itch inside,
make him crosshatch his body with scratches livid as wet clay.
      Red like the mat he drives the boys into, chin digging
at their shoulders as they flail like hooked crappies, red like the mat
      that should collapse right through the gym floor's polished slats
for how hard he's pushing down. Red like the quarry brimful
      with a brazen sky, the only place he's ever felt light
enough, floating. Red like the heads of prairie fire lining the turnpike.
      Red like the oil derrick's clumsy skull rising,
falling, bowing to the hilt of its unfillable hunger.

Josh Myers

The Missouri Review

Fall 2017

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