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Author: Sean Lause
Location: Bluffton, Ohio

Sean Lause teaches courses in Composition, Shakespeare, Speech and Literature of the Holocaust at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio. His work has appeared in The Mid-American Review, Poetry International, The Minnesota Review, Epicenter, European Judaism, The Blue Collar Review, The Mother Earth International, and Frog Pond, among others.


Charles Mackley, orphan,
adopted by aunt and uncle,
farmers, their hands were hard,
their lives were hard,
the bank had half their land.
For two days the boy said nothing,
staring at hard things---
their floor, their shoes, their land.

The aunt said, "Watch our hogs for us."
So he watched the hogs.
He was the watcher.
He watched their snouts big as fists,
their hard, certain hooves,
their round, shameless shanks,
their eyes like hard peas
and ears like pink paper hats.
He stroked their sandpaper backs
and spoke softly to them
as they nudged their heads into the craven earth.

One day, his uncle took a huge shovel
and slammed it between a hog's eyes.
Its head caved in like a mound of earth,
then it sank to its knees as if in prayer
and kicked itself loose from its life.
The boy's eyes darkened and turned inward.
He didn't know what a hog farmer is.
Now he knew.
He ran, and when they found him
caught in the barb wire, they carried him home
and bathed him in Jesus and datalatum.

Years later, he rode with Dillinger,
bashing banks and sheriffs,
winking at the snout-nosed bankers,
making them pay.
His hands were murders,
his eyes violations.

Scheduled for execution
at the Ohio State Pen,
he made a break for it,
but he had grown too fat
and couldn't make the gate.
When they shot him in the barb wire,
he dangled for a moment,
one hand stroking the back of the wind.

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