Shanna Compton


Stalking the Seam, she often flaunted a pink vinyl belt.

In our alleged town, forensic in its deficit of grace,
scrapping out under the hot lights we strove
each night to temper, we performed
hysterical amputations.

Agog in the harmonies of its hundredfold hickish choir,
same verse same verse same verse to the hole.
A double-decade crime spree toward max penalty
and paltry rewards paid to snitch.

But that was before.
Until today, we never told.


I haven’t prepared any confession.

Professed a will early, posed courtly
with a Buick there in the drive
near a garden of rocks, for all the world ungifted,
a creaturely figures in a shabby tableau.

Unwrapped, I got what I wanted
amid the raunch of a wannabe suburb.
We exploded cars with mere bumper taps.
Assault came so lightly, in a gang.

I swallowed my tablets of pittance,
each gospel pebble, pulling taut ungodly faces.
When I took it on, despite its stifling clusters,
the forsaken place felt incongruously huge.

She let us in to maraud her pit.

Together we scattered lime, stacked
castoffs at the edges, picked
our way up for a view of the blight surrounding.

The country we inherited lay chunked
with half-life apartments we jiggered open
but found bare, just rumpled want-ads
perpetually seeking whatever—

anything else.

If each of us had an emblem or odor
we would all show up canary,
the scent of oiled metal,
a bitten-off flavor lathered by work.

Some of us frankly stank of grease.

In our ranks, she hit high and low.


Shanna Compton’s books include Down Spooky, Gamers, For Girls & Others, and several chapbooks. Forthcoming from Bloof Books, The Blank Verge includes the long poem “The Seam,” from which this excerpt is taken. Other excerpts may be found in Eoagh, Court Green, Women’s Studies Quarterly, No Tell Motel, and others.

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