Three first drafts: Cimex, Workaday, Five O’Clock Somewhere

The Reproductive Habits of Cimex

Traumatic insemination
is exactly what it sounds like.
There’s no metaphor in this:
A hypodermic organ, a carapace,
and semen in the blood.

The parasite is not a metonym
for shame, nor horror;
There is no sign to read in filth,
in bloodstained sheets
and scarlet welts.

It is, and that is all.

Workaday
The mop-up man at the arcade puts on his gloves
refreshes the supply of concentrated soap
and wipes away the hour’s humiliating stains,
scant seconds of secret lonely joy
and half-burnt cigarettes.
He keeps his head down.
Nobody he wants to see is here.

The banker’s agent changes locks
on the last failure of the day.
The bin outside replete,
he signs his name
and shuts the door.
He keeps his head down.
Nobody he wants to see is here.

Closing time, the bar gone still
a whole long night of smiles
reduced to aching joints and broken glass.
The regulars are not the barkeep’s friends.
They’ll learn it soon enough if they get sober.
He keeps his head down.
Nobody he wants to see is here.

5 O’Clock Somewhere
Open up a bottle, climb inside
and let the world recede,
and make myself an empty husk
until tomorrow’s new decline.

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