Sphincter by Wayne F. Burke

A dozen of us football players
were standing around
shooting the shit
when a small army of guys
from the next town,
our hated rivals,
arrived in cars
and walked down the road
their legs and torsos in silhouette
from headlights on the highway.
Everyone ran except me, Tank, and Leno
who went down under guys’
who piled-on like leaves;
I went to his rescue
got punched
and a guy bobbed and weaved
his head in moonlight
I swung
and the guy’s knees
and when he came back up
I swung again and he dropped
onto the gravel road
that the sneaker-ed feet tore at
as the grunts and groans became
louder under the hot moon–
Tank knocked guys down like
they were bowling pins;
the groans turned to cries,
bodies littered the ground
I struck-out at
I don’t know who
or whom…
the bubble light of a cop car
turned everyone’s face
ghoulish blue;
I ran
into the shadows
because my sphincter muscle had given way
but glad too
I had always wondered
whether or not
I was a coward.

Wayne F. Burke’s poetry has appeared in a variety of publications (including “In Between Hangovers”). His three published poetry collections, all from Bareback Press, are WORDS THAT BURN, DICKHEAD, and KNUCKLE SANDWICHES. His chapbook PADDY WAGON is published by Epic Rites Press. He lives in Vermont.



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