Joe Mills


When I asked Tony what fucking was,
he took me out back and told me about women,
how they had three holes in their sides,
which made me imagine some combination
of electrical outlet and the wounds of Christ,
an idea confirmed when I heard about how
women bled and how you had to be careful
what you put in there because it could hurt,
and he explained how women wanted men
to be men, and how a man needed a woman
who was a woman, and I felt he was sharing
secrets of adulthood, but after hearing them,
I still didn't understand what fucking was,
then one night Greg and I knocked on his door
and he pointed a twelve gauge though the screen,
saying, "Don't you fuck with me," and we laughed
until he broke the barrel and popped shells out,
and something inside me wrenched loose,
and I realized even people you think you know
behave differently, dangerously, in the dark.

A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joe Mills has published four collections of poetry with Press 53, including Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet.

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