How talky they were, the young women
I roomed with in the beach town, glad
to confess, blaming themselves more
than the guy out screwing
someone else, the professor a wolf
among his students, the surfer gone by dawn,
the boss whose wife understood, oh, too well.
When Grace murmured she was pregnant
Melinda consoled her with her tales of men
who leave you diseased, scarred, hungry, and you
find a guy at a bar who says he understands,
but you know he’s crashing and doesn’t want
to burn alone, and you go down with him,
flames warming you, almost licking you clean.

Joseph Chaney directs the Master of Liberal Studies Program at Indiana University South Bend. His poetry has appeared in The Nation, Beloit Poetry Journal, Black Warrior Review, Yankee, Prairie Schooner, and other journals.