A week later,
the sunflower going leathery along the high ridge of his back seat
caught the eye of the cop
who’d pulled him over
as she stood in the right tail end brake light’s glow
writing him a ticket,
and without thinking, downgraded the offense
to one with no points.

Perhaps it was the flower
or the way the light caught his curls.

Or just his name
or that he was only a boy.

It might have been her sixteen years of rejecting the unsmooth moves,
the rude passes that almost passed for assault,
the way she always doubted her own strength and stamina,
believing sure exposure lay just ahead,
arriving any day now
if she didn’t keep her mouth shut
and do everything,
almost anything
that had been asked of her.

Laura McCullough's third collection of poems, SpeechActs, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press (2010). Her second collection of poems, What Men Want, is out February 1 from xoxox Press with blurbs by Hilda Raz, Denise Duhamel, and Kurt Brown. Her first, The Dancing Bear, debuted in 06 with jacket blurbs by Stephen Dunn, Li-young Lee, and BJ Ward. In 07, Mudlark published her chapbook of prose poems, Elephant Anger, and she won her second NJ State Arts Council Fellowship, this time in poetry; the first was in prose. She has an MFA in fiction from Goddard College. In 07, she attended the Summer Solstice Writers Conference, went to Bread Loaf again as part of the Social Staff, attended the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Harpur Palate, Guernica, Crab Orchard Review, The Oklahoma Review, Perihelion, Anti-poetry, Tusculum Review, Hanging Loose, Pebble Lake Review, The Hiram Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Iron Horse Quarterly, The Hiss Quarterly, The Pedestal, The Potomac, Nimrod, Boulevard, Tattoo Highway, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, Poetry East, The Portland Review, and others. Her book reviews have appeared in such places at Webdelsol Review of Books, The Potomac, and Small Spiral Notebook. Laura is a doctoral candidate in poetry at the University of Essex.

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