ooted from the chatroom, again,
Melvin464 sighs over his stacks of Montgomery Ward bra-and-panty catalog circulars, measuring his manhood against the notched, splintered yardstick he keeps in the closet. Oh jeez but just to get a handle on all the confusing rapid eye anagrams and acronyms they loved to use in those discussion threads― cliff note emotion tags jury-rigged out of asterisks, semicolons, paragraph brackets and such sperm swimming across the browser bar like so much pinched retinal amoeba carbonating into the optic nerves did they expect him to get it all through osmosis or what? But by god there will come a day he'll do no wrong yes sir, snappy sharp and hip interface like Snoopy with his typer on the doghouse roof

spitting glowworm one-liners into a needling
black downpour―soggy gnawed animal cracker
puzzle piece losing a little more of himself
each time until he finally starts
to fit in...

* * *

Ray makes his way
past the Amtrak platform,
ducking quick down cement stairwell
emptying on Spring Street in Seattle―
sixth city in as many weeks, in flight from
the federal men got him pegged a terrorist
since he threatened the life
of senator's daughter

phone sex girl, who posted his most
private, personal pictures and things

when she lost all patience
with his deadbeat ass behind
on the credit card bill
for the last time

he was going to pay her...he was going to pay her...

He imagines the patina
of harelip sweat on the pinched faces
of his pursuers―

legions of lean John Walsh clones
in Hefner hunting jackets and meerschaum pipes
signifying smoke ring gang signs
flapping for the clouds...

They would backslap, of course they would
bump and grind, bellow and chant, shaking
cell phones aloft like Zulu spears,

triangulating his heat signature
from global positioning satellites
blimp-swooning in the stratosphere,

closer and closer each passing second to
striking distance and he's getting
weary, so very

* * *

It's Billy's birthday, and his goodbuddies
sitting at the strip club meat rack have pitched in
and bought him a lap dance from the prettiest
dancer in the state.

Name of Baby―
angel face, jet black hair
bubbling all the way down
to mango butt cheeks, body of a ballerina
draped over the chair like a rock climber
clawing at a cliff face while Billy

sits there he squints and stares
at her clit cleanly
by the pink lace thong thing
that she wears;

and she starts to slowly rub it
all along the writhing column of his bulging
501 silver crotch buttons, lips pursed to blow
air puffs at stray V05-sprayed
bangs that block her view
of his ongoing

His friends are watching too,
bright-eyed and avuncular,
but a mite

Billy is a true character, been tossing back
way too many tequila shooters and is liable
at any moment to pull something:

maybe just a tiny tug on that

gold nipple ring
in Baby's left breast,

just so
he might feel something

tactile, something

and imminent,

like for instance the outpouring
of purest pain straight up
from the crazy ass-whipping
the Samoan bouncer brothers
glowering at the bar
are more than ready
to put on him


Billy in the alley
butting up against the strippers' backstage trailer

and he's spraying black fountain bowel blood
in geyser-groans,

spitting teeth like ivory beads popped
from the long wavy crimson chin strings...

Billy gap grinning and breathing hard,
bracing for another blow, shouting across
the cul-de-sac at the little propped
casement window beneath the canopy porch
of the dressing room where Baby crouches

"What say, baby doll! Hey you know one day we're all

skinny, pale penlight of moon
skittering across an ash-gray gravel-patch,

turquoise and topaz on fat flashing fists,

a sound,
like the stutter of a sprinkler head
periscope-peeking from the earth,

another groan,

a window slamming shut.

Dennis Mahagin is a writer and musician currently living in Las Vegas. He has worked as a counselor, care provider, and longshoreman in an Alaskan cannery. His poetry  appears online in Stirring, Slow Trains Journal, Erosha, Deep Cleveland, and 3 A.M. He is currently at work on a chapbook.

"Billy, Ray, and Melvin" came to me when I exited a cinema triplex recently, having watched the sequel to The Matrix. I was sorely disappointed in the movie, and it got me thinking about the themes in the original picture that had so inspired and spoken to me. Out of that meditation, the poem took its shape.



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