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When it started, I had been in Gainesville for three days.

They called him the Gainesville Ripper, which sounds comical, all but the ripping.

His name was Danny Harold Rolling. It was August 1990.

Five of them were slaughtered.

I spent evenings huddled in the dorm rooms of my girlfriends.

There were lots of p-words tossed around, don’t be a pussy, say a prayer.

When he was convicted, they sent him to Starke. What a name for a town.

One drove slowly through Starke, a notoriously student-unfriendly place.

Whites were all right to stop there.

Rolling had lobster tail before the injection, an excellent if slightly clichéd choice.

Red Lobster on Newberry Road was relatively fine dining. I spent much of the nineties in Gainesville.

Got two degrees and STDs in Gainesville.

“The nineties sucked,” Marisa Tomei and Mickey Rourke declared in that ragged film The Wrestler.

No shit.

The nineties sucked, for me, in Gainesville.

There was the gay bar, the University Club, where I wore my J-Crew shirt, the Evil Flannel, where I danced and swallowed whatever the fuck.

We dropped Blue Monkey and stood on the balcony in the rainstorm.

I was the shirtless teeth-grinder in the corner with the lizard.

I was the tweaky late-night stroll by the green power plant.

I was the kid in the stacks of Smathers Library falling hopelessly in love with the poems of Donald Justice.

I fell in love, or what felt like love.

With gin.

With Salems. With a boy.

We moved downtown.

We moved into a two-part apartment complex, one blue, one pink.

We had a wedding, in 1993, and my parents came, and they stopped at Publix on the way and got a couple party platters.

The wedding was in our pink apartment.

Michael Hofmann, who lived in the blue, described it as “live-oaks and love-seats, handymen and squirrels, / an electric grille and a siege mentality.”

An alligator crawled out of Lake Alice and ate a little dog on a leash, said the Gainesville Sun.

I walked on Payne’s Prairie with Debora Greger, in winter, and imagined King Payne, the nineteenth-century Seminole Chief, on a white horse.

The egrets were white. The heron was blue.

I narrowly escaped the controlled burn.

from ProprietaryFind it in the library

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Published in Poems Randall Mann

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