Take it – the sand in the eye, broken glass
in the boot, the vinyl in your teeth
from the back of the headrest in your mom’s
Ford Fairmont, the stirrup, the speculum,
the fingers that have been inside your wife,
her legs spread open for strangers, the gaze
and the scrape of it – like a man.

You can hardly say it without curling
your upper lip, your body unable to relax,
unable to cope with the idea that something
going in could be worse than what comes out.

You can hardly feel the weight of the word
on your tongue, just the heavy S’s striking
the T’s and P’s, the spurt, the venom
all at once, then the snake spent and lifeless,
the hands of a plumber, the fit. And you lie there.
The hole cut out, the metal clamp, the curtain.

Don’t be nervous she says. Best to relax
she says. This is the numbing solution.



Ray McManus

Ray McManus

Ray McManus is the author of four books of poetry: Punch. (Hub City Press, 2014) Red Dirt Jesus (Marick Press, 2011), Left Behind (Stepping Stones Press, 2008), and Driving through the country before you are born (USC Press, 2007). He lives in South Carolina where he is the creative writing coordinator for the Tri-District Arts Consortium, and an Associate Professor of English in the Division of Arts and Letters at University of South Carolina Sumter. He teaches creative writing, Irish literature, and Southern literature to anyone who’ll listen. He is a husband, a father, an editor, and a coach—a suburban archaeologist, a side street performer, a small engine mechanic, sometimes impatient. His poems "Cystoscope" and "Killing" will appear in Vol. 1.1 of the print edition of The Frank Martin Review.

Ray McManus

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