Oct/Nov 2016 Poetry Special Feature

Jimmy Roger Billy

by Jane Collins

Image courtesy of the British Library Online Photo Collection

Jimmy Roger Billy

They are dying, the boys I lay
with in fields and dry places, gone
like the bogs and thickets of that town,
overtaken by townhouses
sprouted on roadsides we flew past
in GTOs and Camaros,
tossing out beer cans and lit butts,
past the bridge we jumped from on
summer days, past the circle of
white pines I waved to when I
moved away and they remained.
In the hospital, Billy told me,
"I'd rather drink than live," his mouth
a wide brown circle of doubt, his breath
shallow and quick, his skin pulled tight.
They all went like that, drinking to
the end, the illusion of our youth.


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