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WINTER, Don


Stripbar: Hamtramck

On CR-4 in Michigan

the goddamn of music

was going on.

The dancer came out

dangling money carelessly.

She looked at our faces

as if they were small tips.

Christ she was beautiful

when she danced out of her clothes.

All her bones floating in milk.

Sweetheart, the others called her.

Honey. Doll. For each of them

she smiled. I envied how

she let the backs of her hands linger

at the very top of her thigh.

When she finally came to me,

I stuck a dollar bill

where my eyes had been.

Her face had the alert sleepiness

of a cat’s. she smiled

vacantly, moved on to he next dollar.

I drifted into the night air.

The lights on my rigged pushed

the dark aside, moved me

towards no house, towards no one waiting.


The Hamtramck Hotel


shrinks in adesert of parking meters.

And WE NEVER CLOSE pops and blinks like a wounded eye.

And the buckled sidewalk a blood and beer stained belt

of accordion keys. And the prostitutes whistle their one note,

lips thick donuts strawberry glazed.

And the cars lay for years like stunned animals.

And the manager’s voice tumbles like dice.

And all the rooms are dark, candle stubs

gasping on the tables. And the walls are stripping

down their paint. And the plumbing has hot flashes.

And Joe’s biceps are two pigs wrestling

in a sack. And he belts the punching bag,

fists backfiring like pistons, an engine running down.

And thin walls separate lives.

And you hold back air, clutch your own fists

and wait to hear it—whatever woman moaning

low, the dull thud of the beating.

And you are glad your friends have stopped visiting.

And you turn up the radio

and hold onto the notes, a man diving

from a burning tenement holding to a mattress.

And you sleep between the station breaks.

And a rolling curtain of freight cars blocks out the river.

And the moon climbs

as the stars drip steadily into the streets.