Lucille Gang Shulklapper

Moments of truth come to him the way an avalanche breaks loose,

               or the crack of a glacier, when it calves, and disappears,

like the stroke of the blade that slits the throat of the hog before it falls into the vat

               of boiling water.

He and the hog are one, dangling by legs roped onto the iron wheel, squealing,

               shrieking in frenzy, swung aloft,

he and the hog in the slaughterhouse of the world.

He slugs whiskey, one shot after another, staggers into nightfall.

From his bloodshot eye, he sees: Visit the Grand Canyon, a bumper sticker

               on a bus passing the shanties and factories of Ladingtown,

               belching diesel fumes into his lungs.

Something combustible lingers in his throat, an acrid taste of cigarettes,

               whiskey and oil.

The bus moves on, but the swirling river, the chasm, remain hypnotic, and

               —why not?—an abyss to fall into, and then, the river, a cleansing.

Now he sits on the ambered edge of the great gorge, the northernmost rim,

               beyond saving.

Itís too dark, heís alone, and the sunís falling, pulling him down.

An animal cries out as though itís being eaten, but itís coming from him.

Donít, she says. He breathes her next to him, doesnít turn his head, feels her arm

               around him.

In back country, in her cabin, sheltered by rock, he buries his head in her milked-dry

               breasts and bathes her in still-damp places;

her body is the river where they float on currents beneath them.

Lucille Gang Shulklapper: "A Workshop Leader for The Florida Center for the Book, and for the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, I write fiction and poetry. I've won awards and competitions from the National League of Pen Women: Nob Hill Branch, The Florida Chapter of The Mystery Writers of America, Palm Beach Repertory Theater, Common Ground Review, and others. My work has been anthologized and appears in many publications, as well as in four poetry chapbooks, What You Cannot Have; The Substance of Sunlight; Godd, Itís Not Hollywood; and, In The Tunnel. Living up to traditional expectations led to work as a salesperson, model, realtor, teacher, and curriculum coordinator throughout schooling, marriage, children, and grandchildren."

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