The Ugly Ugly Man
by Joanna Pearson


Each afternoon the ugly ugly man
walks south along Dekalb
as all the schoolgirls crowd outside the school
in the full parking lot.
They balance on slim ankles against cars,
squinting in the sun
and glancing at the guys they like reflected
in the bright red metal.
The ugly ugly man turns down the drive,
lumbering past, nodding at them.
Half his face is black, and half splotched pink
like the hairless belly
of a spotted dog that wallows in the grass.
His lip is fat and raw
like he sipped a fire, kissed a copperhead,
but never a woman.
Leaning on the fenders, the girls watch him
and finger their chins,
the starburst of teenage pustules on their cheeks.
His face surpasses even
whispering so they are silent for a moment,
thinking, Ugly, Uggggh-leeee,
a sound like rumors being spread or sighing
from Friday-night backseats.
It's Friday, and tonight there will be
fast food wrappers and movies,
teeth clacking behind the mall, the curl from cigarettes-
by now he's out of sight
and, thoughtful, passing sorry, they apply
the lipstick to their careful mouths possessively.


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