ARE YOU READY FOR THE COUNTRY?
Nights, you visit the bar, stay too late.
Beer, mirrors, news of the shooting
between innings on the lone TV.
Your shirt has become too tight in the belly.
You suck it in, remember how thin
your father was when the cancer tore
through, caught in the fatty brown pause
of an eternal Good Friday—last year’s
grass in bales, this year’s grass kept
under veil. On the long walk home,
you feel overwhelmed, wonder how
you’ll sneak through the door without
waking the house. You don’t want to
face it. Only want to get away
with it, just one more time.
It’s so late the stars have grown faint.
Looking up for the moon, you stumble,
and there’s that guy with the tight shirt,
a belly full of beer, caught between
innings, spilled out like a wallet
on the shoulder of the road. You kneel
in the gravel. You’re tired of all this.
The slurry scent coming in from the pasture
slaps your nostrils. You take up
the weight and set his body down
just over the rise. It’s a small yard,
the kind you see in the country—
white fence, a few stones,
fresh clover under foot—
the sky growing lighter.
SOMETIMES THE POWER
Sometimes the power
in your train car.
You know how
the lights can just go
and the heat
quits too as quiet
for what was.
MY FATHER WAS BORN IN A TENT IN ALABAMA
my heart dumps its dark grease all over the curve
of the McDonald’s drive thru.
My Americanness has left me
stooped, but Ronald emerges
from Playland, takes my hand, tucks a stack
of fresh white napkins into my burst chest. I see Jesus at the gates
of Capernaum, tired, hungry,
whispering, Talitha Cumi, before lifting
the dead girl
from Zero’s void. Even if that reanimation never happened,
once I’m better, I have to carry hotcakes and hashbrowns
to the good people in tents
under the southbound lanes of the viaduct.