Johnny Borrows The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
and reads it all in the Friday night drunk tank. The other drunk eyes him like he might be dangerous. The sheriff eyes him like he might be mad. Been a minute, Johnny, he had said when Johnny came in. Not for lack of trying, Johnny said. Life is a dry out between two binges, these days. Civilization simply costs a man too much. His most recent wife didn’t agree. If she could see him reading in jail, though! Johnny is so often the thing disasters have in common, even when he doesn’t try to be. Johnny doesn’t love what he’s become. An apology between two mortal sins. How could a man want to be good, after all? He guessed he wanted to be good enough. Just enough booze, just enough women. If God would only tell him when to stop. Five wives ago, he’d been 18, and handsome as a dream. His body still moved easily through pain. When he gets out of jail, walks in through the front door, his wife looks him knowingly up and down. Been a minute, Johnny. Her voice is like sandpaper. Not for lack of trying, Johnny says.
by Rachel Custer
Editor’s Note: This excellent prose poem uses repetition to create a narrative that emphasizes the main character’s emotional imbalance.