All the Women in Wisconsin

- P. G. Roman

All of the women in Wisconsin were beautiful

So I blacked out on a curb in Appleton.

It was sometime after midnight

By the paper mill.


They came at dawn.

I opened my eyes and

Saw the workers of the mill

Heading to work.

My head was throbbing so violently with pain

it was hard to believe I was alive.

The smell of pulp and diesel sullied the air.

The paper mill workers pointed and laughed,

With stained crooked fingers and

Flat buttermilk faces donkey lipped with chaw.

They carried Aluminum lunch pails and patted plaid pockets,

embroidered Steve and Ricky and Josiah.


A squad car cruised on their shoulders.

I stood to vomit and made a break for it.

There was a park up the block

that I suddenly remembered drinking and singing in the night before,

cradling a bottle in the slope of a slide.

“Oh sweet babe, oh, oh, oh,”

The lights lit up as I climbed the grass hill.

They took me at the entrance of the park.

I dove for the woodchips


and banged my head on a water fountain.


One drew his club and the other his cuffs.

Wisconsin cops are fast.

I puked in my lap,

while we rode past all the cute little houses of Appleton.

I imagined the beautiful women fixing breakfast,

drinking hot coffee, doing the local crossword puzzle,

Preparing for the day.


The Tank was pleasant enough.

Calm and quiet.

There was another guy, named Dustin.

He got picked up from under a bridge.

His was ravaged and scarred with junk tracks.

His face was dead

and his arms looked like rotten pieces of drift wood.

He was sick and crazy too. He shimmied a little bag of

pretzels out of his pant leg and offered me some.

What little he said made no sense, but we shared the pretzels.

I was relieved when they called my name.


They brought me through the back.

By the big pissing dog shacks,

Chicken wire and fishing hooks.


These were Wisconsin’s boys:

Beer Belly, Firework, Thermos and Half a Dozen,

On duty with bulldog dick cropped hair, honey badger brown and draft blonde.

Square and lettered like license plates.


We came to an office, and they pushed me in the door.

The captain leaned back behind his desk, hunting boots crossed on the desk.

Bass mount on the wall.

He shot some cheese wiz onto a cracker as he turned another page of a sports catalog.

Beerbelly handed him my license.

He looked it over and looked at me.

“Illinois, huh?”

“Yes sir.”

“What are you doing in Appleton?”

“I’ve been driving around the state the last few days.”

“Doing what? Getting drunk in towns you don’t belong in?”

“I’m an artist, sir. I’m doing research.”

“You’re an artist? What kind of art do you do?”

“I’m a poet, sir.”

“You look like an asshole.”

I didn’t say anything.

He wrote me a citation and let me go.


I was amazed.


Those eyes told the story of

A fifteen year old kid who

Stuck some other poor out of town kid

In the gut with his daddy hunting knife

Over a girl in broad day light on the 4 th of July

In the alley at the parade and still managed to get

Grandma to bingo on time.

These are the breeds who reap manic vengeance upon the world

In their fathers honor.

Men who see orange


And Breathe motocross

in and out of season.

They were born atop

The pink peak of Rabbit Rock as darts

And their cousins taught them how to drive drunk

Before they finished 8 th grade.

They lost their virginity on pontoon boats

And were baptized in the waters of Lake Arrowhead,

With swatches of seaweed and wads of cod bone.