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     By Dallas Carroll

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it’s not my fault

you can’t blame a man

not one

with a past like mine

none of it

was my fault

when I                was a boy

the lady down the street

the one with

black curly hair falling

to the backs of her knees

she did                the same                things

to                me


her husband was

always gone and

she told me

she was lonely

she told me

she needed me


I was only

nine years old


I couldn’t

fight back


I’ve tried to

forget the feeling

her hands

left on me

the smell she left

on my clothes

when she handed them

back to me

every nightI drown those

memories with the only

medicine I ever believed in


ice cold heineken


there were some things

the booze couldn’t hold back



like                the                urges

I tried not to

look at my niece

the way I did

I tried not to

touch her

the way I did

really did

but she told


I denied it

all of it

my kids believed me

so did

my wife


they thought my niece

was just making it up

I still couldn’t risk

touching her



she moved

soon after

it can’t be

my fault

there is a sickness

living inside of me

the kind that kept my fingers lingering

longer than

they should have

that sent my hands

to places


should not have touched                should not have loved


when my granddaughter was born

that sicknes

scame back

and not even the booze

could keep my hands

from her

she was quiet                and trusting


never told anyone

about the nights

when I’d let my hands

trace the lines of her body


she was so young

only two years old

when I’d first

tasted her


she was pure                and perfect

untouched by any man


her long brown hair

kept in tight braids

at the sides of her head

pale skin and wide eyed

nothing like the woman

that had taken

my youthf

rom me


you can’t blame a man for doing

the things I did


not with a past

like mine


I love my niece


I love my granddaughter

I love all the girls

that let me

explore them


it was

 never my fault

none of it was


I didn’t ask to be

substitute for that woman’s


any more than

I asked for the

sickness that lives inside

of                me

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