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Without Half the Money

Oregon Coast Range, 1997

Morning's mossy orchard

totally spidered. We’d get high,

watching them drop and weave.

Bored by noon, you’d stick-rip a web,

scrambling a repair, the way storms

sparked us into cold rain

to fix a crushed fence,

keeping out the town’s careless

and curious.

Don’t worry, you’d wave

to the sheriff driving by,

fans humming, ammonia, methanol,

propane tanks valved blue,

spiders plucking threads so sticky and smooth

even they could hardly move.

Red-stained coffee filters

that smelled like piss.

Couched in our gauzy gray parlor,

young angels soared and dangled

until we sucked them skinny. Pipes, bras, cash

and a bunch of trash you'd burn on Sunday,

wondering why I'd drive off

in the middle of the night

without half the money.


Henry Hughes’ poems have appeared in Antioch Review, Carolina Quarterly, Harvard Review, Shenandoah, Southern Humanities Review, Seattle Review, Sewanee Review and J Journal. He is the author of four poetry collections, including Men Holding Eggs, which received the Oregon Book Award. Hughes is the editor of The Art of Angling: Poems about Fishing and Fishing Stories (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series). He is a regular book reviewer for Harvard Review.


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