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by Cody Winchester

Last spring the kid up the road
died in his closet.
We rode the same yellow bus.
Once I told him to turn down
his cheap black boombox.
Balanced on his shoulder, he
played it heavy and loud.

Even before the rope met
his fine Basque neck,
I could have told you his story.
I never saw it myself, but
we went to the same high school, where
muscles rippled under lettermen’s jackets
and his thin legs walked alone.

I also saw the hard looks of his
father as he walked along
dusty ditch banks. And I
heard all the stories my dad
picked up at the Co-op.
His mother left early and
so did a string of other women.

I wasn’t there when he died.
A one-time cheerleader working at
the gas station told me much later.
It’s so awful, she said, that someone could
kill himself.
And I might have agreed with her, if
she hadn’t been so eager to tell me.