Winter 2005 • Vol. XXVII No. 1 Poetry |

The Killer

Born on a showboat headed upriver, he thought the world a gamble & the moon a gin- soaked ice cube, whole month of melting. He looked a lot like money, just not much of it—thread-bare, worn down by use—stamped by numbers & years, a library book long overdue. Heavy fines.     • You hated to find yourself beneath his oil-slick eyes— the sweats would start to overtake you & you'd hitch a ride on the potty train. All aboard.     • Wearing a splint like a pinky ring, he used a toothpick like a cigarette— collected guns & grenades, their rings long since yanked to take someone's hand like a bride. Once he's been paid you can't hide—he'll find you & like a jukebox fed a fistful of change, plays his hits without stopping, maybe only to scratch.     •   Crow's feet.     • Have heard him called a hundred things— Sleep Stea

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Kevin Young is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems, 1995–2015. His Book of Hours was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Prize; his book The Grey Album won the PEN Open Award, the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. This essay has been adapted from Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, longlisted for the National Book Award.

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Born on a showboat headed upriver, he thought the world a gamble & the moon a gin- soaked ice cube, whole month of melting. He looked a lot like money, […]

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