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Tuesday Night at the Illinois State Fair

Read by Sandra Beasley

Pray for black-outs. For
a packed grandstand. Pray for
ex-cons and no back door.
Pray for Milwaukee men eating
turkey legs whole, who watch ours
as we climb the chairlift stairs —
pray for the heavy Clydesdale
hooves and the girl who waves
the 4-H flag. For our footsteps
swept out with the dirt. We’ll spike
our shake-ups and drink them
with the safety men. I’ll sever
the Spider’s arms so they’ll fall
around its trunk; you’ll watch closely
on the ground. They know we’ll ride
the Himalaya, so pray for the wrong
direction. For broken levers. For
the Alabama man to drop down
onto the console. We’ll clutch our
slutty drinks. We’ll stumble
to the Log Jam. Pray for frayed
seatbelts. Pray for the long drop.
Pray that tonight, when our mothers
rise from their incense blankets,
their sacrificial wine, from their shrines
winking like fairway lights, when
they look down at our waiting beds —
pray for the salt in the sheets,
for the body hollows. Pray for
their mouths, then. Pray then
for the final break.

Brittany Cavallaro’s poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Washington Square Review, Blackbird, Court Green, and Bat City Review, among others. She is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is the editor-in-chief of Devil’s Lake.