Thursday 29 July 2021

They Were Just Being Boys

by B. Lynne Zika

Debbie Ball was the first girl in Loachapoka, Alabama,
to stop wearing a padded bra.
She had her red sequined majorette uniform
taken in at the bust
and laughed and threw back her hair and said,
“It’s what I got born with.”

Bill Woody was captain of the football team
and tended to speak with the assurance
of the only son of the town’s newspaper family
and the first of his friends to sport a hard-on.
Bill said what Debbie got born with
was a revolving door.

After college, Bill tried pipe sales, gambling,
and a stint in Hollywood
modeling for an agency specializing in GQ types.
I had steak and salad with him at Musso & Frank’s one night
and caught up on old times.
Red Ray got shot in a hotel room outside of town
by a jealous husband.
Hugh Shiffler became an MIA.
David Boote went into his daddy’s shoe business.
I said, “Bill, whatever happened to Debbie Ball?”
Bill snorted over his Caesar salad and said,
“Debbie Ball was a whore.
She once gang-banged the entire football team
in Red Ray’s trailer after the game.”
I said I thought that was just an ugly rumor,
the kind started by small-town boys.
Bill sawed off a piece of steak and said,
“Nah, I was there.”
I said, “Bill, what’s the difference between Debbie Ball
and the boys who screwed her?”
Bill looked at me, a little amazed,
and said again, “Why, she was a whore.”

The candlelight caught the red of my melting Bloody Mary.
I saw the flash of Debbie’s sequins on the field,
the fire on the ends of her baton twirling in the sky
and spinning down and down
past her open hand
to the white chalk numbers on the 50-yard line
and Debbie, bending to retrieve the fallen wand,
bowing to the crowd.

* * * * *

B. Lynne Zika’s poetry and essays have appeared online and in literary and consumer publications, including globalpoemicBoston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene, Poetry East, ONTHEBUS, and The Anthology of American Poets. In addition to editing poetry and nonfiction, she worked as a closed-captioning editor for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. She received a Pacificus Foundation Literary Award in short fiction. Her photography has received several awards, including the 2020 Top Creator Award from Viewbug. Her images may be viewed at

1 comment:

  1. "Ball" and "Woody" set the tone, of course, and the culture at the time privately approved -- guffawed, even. Today we applaud the clarity and the subtle irony of this finely wrought poem.