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Saturday, February 25, 2006


by Diane Payne

Traffic is lined up for miles with a steady stream of cars
filled with South Dakota women heading north, south, east, and west.
Their husbands have left work and are spending the day in bars
boasting how they were only doing what was best.

“Those damn women ain’t listening to what we’re saying.
They always think they’re the ones who are paying!
Hell, if my wife’s life was really in danger,
I’d be the first to call the ranger
and let them know we weren’t breaking no law
and explain how she was near death and all
so she wouldn’t be locked up in jail
waiting for me to rescue her with bail.”

And all their young sons sit in school,
since the girls have left with their mothers
while the boys sit there silent, once again the fool
all because they refused to speak up with the others
when the girls passed pro-abortion petitions trying to get them on
their side,
but the boys thought of their fathers and said no with pride,
and now they sit there, remembering the close calls,
how they whined about a condom ruining their balls,
and weeks later the pregnancy test,
and they remember all the rest,
but their fathers will never know
and the women will continue to go
because in South Dakota the men know what’s best.
They know what’s best, and now they can rest.

They know what’s best, and now South Dakotans can rest.

Diane Payne teaches creative writing at University of Arkanasas-Monticello. She is the author of the novel Burning Tulips, and has been published in hundreds of magazines.