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Papa's been drinkin'
and I retreat into darkened closet
behind winter jackets.
Back, pressed into wall;
knees, pressed into chest.
If I make myself small, he won't find me.

She's crying,
from the other side of the wall.
What kind of son am I
to watch his mama fall
under heavy fist, skin sweating whiskey
on her town nightgown.

One day I'll be a man
and it won't go down
like this.

I've been drinking, crying vodka tears
through heavy lidded eyes.
Shoulders sloping, back broken
from carrying the weight of too many worlds
for too many years.
We all fall down-

I find myself
face down in a darkened street,
cheek against wet concrete.
It's raining,
as if the night sky was commiserating.
Drank my last dollars until I drowned,
only way to stay afloat in this madness.
Empty pockets, empty bank account.
Have to get home
Have to tell her
there's no more money left;
there won't be a check this week
but I swear to God we'll make it-

I find my feet,
stumble through empty streets.
They know the way and lead me home.
Where her arms will be a balm
to soothe this storm and make me feel
less alone.

But she's yelling;
telling me I'll never be a man
if I can't provide for us
and I can't
I swear to god I can't listen to this.
Fingers clench into fist
I'm sweating vodka now, lost in dizziness.
And she's crying, hold down her wrists.

Bitch I said we'll
get through this...
Stop screaming and let me
think through this.

(Her shuddering skin
meets open fist.)

Papa beat on mama
and I swore I'd be a better man.
But sometimes life reads too heavy
and I continue the story he began.

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