Gregory Sherl – The Oregon Trail is a lonely place to die from syphilis

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I am cowering in the corner of a corner, the halo
so bright I’m like holy shit I can see through my
fingers, holy shit I can see through penance, holy
shit holy shit burning like a heated aerosol can.
We always ford the river, but today child #2,
Wendy, can’t stomach the gummas that have balled
over my earlobes. Love me I say. Love me I whisper.
Love me I carve into the side of my least favorite ox.
I am a brilliant button without any cloth. The rabbits
are rabid. The bears are rabid. The deer are rabid.
Tell me why they walk with antlers on fire. Tell me
why the banker from Boston starts the trail with
twelve hundred dollars more than the farmer
from Illinois. Does he not touch his wife with two
hands
? I am not rich but I touch everything worth
touching twice. My syphilis is a hole in the side
of the earth, is a note to ex-lovers: don’t ford
the river alone
, is a used pair of overalls I trade
to a carpenter from Ohio for 22 rusted bullets.
When you come home I whisper words I never
learned in your ear
. Baby, you are the last shot
of penicillin.

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