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I pulled down Donny Osmond’s pants
when I was five years old
in the presence of John Glen (my neighbor, not the astronaut)
to see if there was a penis.

Wiry-headed Marie
lay discarded in the driveway,
her ugly “I’m a little bit country” skirt
yanked up around hard, pointy breasts,
her polished pelvis thrust up,
her legs snapped back like boomerangs.

Donny’s molded scrotal lump
was smooth like a worry bead beneath my thumb.
His flat, brown eyes stared out 
over painted, smiling teeth, and
his tiny, purple socks scratched my wrist.

screen door!
Rickety frame clattered smack.
Mom, cross on the walk,
lips creased tight into hospital corners,
“If you can’t play right with your toys, I’m gonna put ‘em up!”

John Glen scorched a comet’s tail
through the long grass home.

I curled up-
like Marie’s microphone in the fireplace-
on the sidewalk and cried.

-Mark J. Royse
January 17, 1998
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