County Lines – Hunter McLaren

He hadn’t had much, not that much
for him anyway. For his stomach that guzzled bottles
and cups and little plastic shooters. Eyes glazed,
lamps dim, summer tongues, pendulum
hands – ones that pulled me into cat-black nights
where no one could spy. He hadn’t had much, but I knew
it was enough for him to stash us away. Enough to make
us ghosts, disappeared persons hanging up coats and hanging
up quilts and closing umbrellas just carefully enough
not to shake all the drops off. Cheeks aglow with apple
whisky, wetter than usual kissing, something like
trying to swallow a swamp, wading for minutes
and minutes and minutes. My mornings began when
I was hung by my shoulders on the clothesline
behind his house that could not be seen from the
road, unfound by neighbors or hovering crows. He
hadn’t had much when he said that he wouldn’t
hang me up to dry this time. That I wouldn’t be
clipped to the line. That I had to evaporate. Drenched and
apologizing. I hadn’t had much when I dove into the
cattails across from his front porch, the ones that
went on for miles, the ones that I would break just
to see fly. I armed myself with a net to collect the
shooters and plastic cups that he’d flung into the
grasses, catching them like strange fish, souvenirs
of a drunk who drank to hold me. But I’ve been him too,
flinging whiskies and embroidering skin, begging men
to throw sheets over themselves. Pretending not
to see them. A barn owl watches me from the tree line,
sees me swimming in cattails and fishing for empties
as the sun ascends over my broke back. The sun
that says to me, survive it. I know you know how.

Hunter McLaren is a college graduate from Central Michigan University
with a Bachelor of Science in English Language, Literature, and Writing.
He also has a creative writing certificate and a minor in Ethics, Value, and
Society. He is an emerging poet with eight pieces published, passionately
seeking more publication opportunities. He proclaims the goal of his work is
to unseat comfort and confront surreal or traumatic themes in creative and
cathartic ways.

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