The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Dorianne Laux

Smash Shack


At the Smash Shack in Jacksonville, North Carolina,

in a cinder block garage, you can don a helmet

and goggles, a glass deflecting black jumper,

face mask, gloves, and a hairnet/do-rag, pick up

a mallet or hammer, and smash, crush, break,

crack, shatter or wreck anything you want:


plates, bottles, window panes, crockery, mayonnaise

jars, wire rimmed glasses, heavy ashtrays and vases

shaped like boomarangs that come flying

right back at you.  You can buy the “Date Night”,

“Angry Wife” or “Armageddon” mystery box

for 10, 15 or 25 dollars, special rates for vets. 


Transparent or opaque, the glass breaks the same

for bus drivers and business men alike, for mothers

of meth addicts, cancer patients, victims of abuse,

children of alcoholics, brain addled former

football heroes, Doctors without Borders. 


Open to those of any color or creed, natives

off the res, young black men, the barbed wire-scarred

Mexican, the raped, the duped, the anorexic,

the 500 pound woman, flaming gays and lesbians,

fast food workers trying to build a union, the entire

staff of Greenpeace, ex-felons, the homeless,

children, teenagers, Seniors, the comely and homely,

the wheelchair bound.  What wouldn’t


we break in the name of some relief, our hands

saying goodbye to candle holders and Christmas

balls, a row of old fire alarms, those horrible

elevator mirrors, fat-adding fitting room mirrors,

the inviting Cinderella mirrors framed in carved

gold hanging in Disney bathrooms.  Enough


bad luck to last a century. Most of all clock faces,

glass hearts, tea cups, decanters, camera lenses,

piggy banks, fish bowls, blown glass butterflies

and unicorns and if you could, every tiffany lamp

and stained glass window in the land.  Because


this is America or Japan, The Anger Room

in Houston filled with Dallas hotheads, Sarah’s

Smash Shack in San Diego, The Venting Place

in Tokyo, The Rage Room in Serbia’s Novi Sad

where you are offered a baseball bat to beat

a hotel TV to rubble, pummel a computer face

to pulp, at last triumphing maniacally

over the beach ball of death.




DORIANNE LAUX's most recent collections are The Book of Men, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize and Facts about the Moon, winner of the Oregon Book Award. Laux is also author of Awake, What We Carry, and Smoke from BOA Editions. She teaches poetry in the MFA Program at North Carolina State University and is founding faculty at Pacific University’s Low Residency MFA Program.  Only As The Day Is Long: New and Selected, is forthcoming from W.W. Norton in January, 2019.


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