Pile of Maggots

by Madeleine Poole


It’s a game the newsboys play: a wrestling match
accordioned up to black sky. A smokestack of boys,
one making a ladder of the others. They’re scrappy
& stalagmited, some small as newsprint, smelling of sweat.
A Jenga tower of bravado & Bowery accents. One boy’s
head emerging between another’s knee-pit; one boy
under the rubble with his arms stretched like a searchlight;
one boy at the top until his competitors, like the meat
surrounding a peachpit, bury him. The game ends
when the youngest calls out, Fellas! Please! & they
flatten themselves boy-shaped again—giggling into each other.
I daydream myself fourteen, with a flat cap, ready to tether
my new fists to the nearest mirrored body. A boy abomination
emerging from other boys like limbs of a good, clumsy angel.


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