poem

The Duluth Model

Police Car

The fight had been going on across the street for over an hour.
The woman screeched on and on –
pitch so high, it pierced my brain
and I couldn’t sleep.
A man’s voice rumbled out
whenever she stopped to breathe,
vibrating through the foundations.
I couldn’t make out what they were saying,
but they went at it often enough
that it didn’t matter.
The street didn’t get involved after last time,
now there were just the tired ones
with work in the morning
shouting at them out of dark windows
to shut the fuck up.
The screaming stopped abruptly,
followed by a series of low concussions
and smashing glass.
And then it was quiet.

A flashing car turned up soon after
and two rough cops knocked on their door.
The woman stepped out on to the pavement with one of them,
stumbling in her heels,
while the other disappeared inside.
She wobbled there, hands animated
and shoulders heaving
as the tears fell down
her make-up streaked face.
Not a mark on her,
but putting on a good show for him,
as he wrote down her half-slurred words.
Then the door opened again
and the man was led out by the other cop,
hands cuffed behind his back
and blood pouring
down the side of his face,
staining his torn shirt.
He was bundled in to the back of the car
without a sound,
as the cop thanked the woman
and promised she was safe now.

After the car pulled away,
she stopped sobbing
and stumbled back inside.
Through the window I watched her
pour another glass of wine
and flick on the television.
They should send women to war, I thought,
as I climbed back in to bed.
It would be over far more quickly.


© 2016, Gavin Zanker.

Photo by Lee Haywood licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

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It Probably Didn’t Matter In The Long Run

Old Man And The Sea

Still hazy with drugs
I entered the bathroom to piss
and saw her there,
lying with the roaches,
half-unconscious and
murmuring to herself.
Seeing her short skirt,
riding up,
showing so much leg,
a thought crossed my mind
but that’s where it stayed.
Even my hormones
recoiled at the idea
of touching the heap of
crazy
passed out on the floor
that night.

With the side of my boot,
I nudged her on to her side
so she wouldn’t choke
on her own vomit.
I figured if she was going to
kill herself
it probably didn’t matter in the long run,
but the act let me stand myself
a little more easily.

In the end though,
it was her kid I felt sorry for.
I heard they took him away
for shooting an old lady
on her way to the post office.
I remember thinking
maybe I could have
saved two lives
if I’d left that woman
to choke on her decisions
all those years ago.


© 2016, Gavin Zanker.

Photo by Rocco Lucia licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

A Problem of Habit

Empty Wine Bottle

I drank too much
last night
and now there are
too many
empty bottles
and pizza
underfoot
and more holes
in the stained walls
and the
empty space
is too loud.
My liver
hates me
almost as much
as I do
for getting pissed
again
on cheap whisky –
the sort that
makes her leave
on a grey
Wednesday morning
when the sun
can’t break through
the clouds
and I
can’t break through
myself.
I wonder if
I can just
drink myself
over the fall
and leave all this
behind,
where it belongs.
I could be
the first,
maybe.


© 2016, Gavin Zanker.

Photo by Dave Sutherland licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.