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JOY/Jeff Worley Maybe it's always mixed, like with Sally in 1974, who touched me more tenderly and convincingly than any woman had, then spent half an hour of pillow talk on the Etruscans, the Tarquín kings' iron-hand rule in the latter half of the 6th century. The half pound of licorice whips (I was 7) pulled up two teeth the same afternoon I jerked a snapping turtle from the canal on a cane pole, thrilled until I looked down to see a leech, like a blob of cold liver, sucking my ankle red. Unadulteratedjoy? My friend Lynn and I win the Kansas Juniors Bowling Tournament in '65 and are handed trophies— I'm not exaggerating—the size of salt and pepper shakers. The Missouri Review · 147 He glued his plastic bowler next to his steering wheel, a dashboard Jesus of Bowling, until a banana-yellow Corvette slammed into his Mustang and broke his trophy in two. Bad luck? Well, joy can walk the other side of the street, too: The Vette belonged to one Annette Winthrop Vickers, who took my friend home and asked his forgiveness for two months. The Germans have a word, schadenfreude, for another kind of joy: the evangelist caught with his pants down in the choir loft, or the child molester trapped in the burning Tunnel of Love. . . . To look and have one more look, Lot's wife notwithstanding, is also a kind ofjoy, the slugger whizzing one an inch the wrong side of the foul pole, then settling in the box again. The next pitch is a lollypop in his sweet zone; he tenses his biceps, undercuts the fat curve and like Isabella 148 · The Missouri Review JeffWorley waving Chris Columbus over the horizon watches it sail out of sight. . . . It plops into the glove of Candi McFarland, celebrating her 10th birthday. She can't believe it; she can't believe it! She had her eyes closed! Joy, a small hard sphere, turns now in her hand, a new world she holds up for everyone to see, her glove hand, for weeks, stinging gloriously. JeffWorley The Missouri Review · 149 LIES/JeffWorley Heigho, the tale was all a lie . . . —Housman I admit to the black lie, bending language into necessary form, a glassblower breathing molten glass into whatever shape occasion calls for. And, uncertain or simply forgetful, I've told the blueblack lie, the lie sheathed in something, I tell myself, resembling innocence. And of course the white lie we all trade in: You were brilliant at the meeting. . . . No, really, dear, your butt looks outstanding in those slacL·. I've told the Doberman lie: the lie that clamps down and won't let go. I've told the lie with the grin behind it. I've appropriated entertaining stories and made them my own—a friend's wild tale of outwitting the Ponca City police, mere borrowing I call it, knowing that's a lie too. I've lied with cards, which is permissible. My doctor fields my lies like routine ground balls— all the vegetables and fruits I've been eating lately, the four-mile jog no matter what the weather! I have invented lovers in casual conversation with ex-lovers—have so convincingly counterfeited amorous evenings on nonexistent beaches that perfect pebbles of white sand floated off my tongue with the buoyant lie. . . . But how wonderfully electric to get away with a lie, to Z it into the air like Zorro and watch it shine in the moonlight. How, then, I love the language even more! Hi, boss. I woke up this morning with a cold/theflu/hair lice/a grouchy disposition/Korsakov'sPsychosis/ichthyosis/ a suddenfear ofneckties/a bulimic psyche, and won't be in today. . . . 150 · The Missouri Review If lies were helium balloons, every H&R Block in the land would suddenly float up, linger like a handshake, and rise toward tropopause. The U.S. House of Representatives would zoom up as if shot from a silo. . . . No lies, though, in the torturer's sub-sub-basement damp with rat piss. Shackled to the rack, who among us would stretch the truth? Burrow my eyelids with a pneumatic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 147-153
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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