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Spittoono Lily

ISSUE:  Fall 2006

Copenhagen, Kodiak, Grizzly, Skoal—
Lily dipped them all, loved the brown shreds of leaf
as they swashed against her tongue, escapees
from the den of lip & gum,

and it was nearly as meaningful
when she was young, stealing pinches in the corner,
training the gut to handle reflux & burn
so she could get away

with it in Algebra One, where Mrs. Rowland
never taught nicotine or the brain’s strange charity,
how multiplied they equal calm, focus,
and ill, being a rebel

at that straitjacket of a school. Later,
so she could find the freshest tin, Lily moved
to Nashville where the finest, Copenhagen,
is made. That moist softness

between index and thumb, feeling her face
purse like old fruit in hot sun, nearly rivals sex, Lily said
on our last date, and, anyway, she clipped, since
everyone knows life’s

hazardous to health, isn’t addiction
synonymous with love. Lily’s drained gallons
of saliva since that contest in Clemson—
Spittoono, they called it

(she won)—but if she gets to its cousin
in Charleston, I hope she doesn’t spit any more
gently or discreetly, but enjoys the motions
of dancers as that other dance

tunes the dark orchestras of her blood.


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