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Poems

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Remember when we almost drowned in ’03, the woods
so thick we only knew the rainstorm by sound of thunder
and violence of the creek, how every day I’d take you to the Stop-N-Go

for your case of Natty Lights? Think back to summertime,
when after lunch you’d pull your shirt off and wring it in your hands
and count off one beer, wring some more, two beers, how in July you’d sweat

all the way through last night’s binge. Think back to when
we chopped paths across hardwood bottoms for skidders to plow
makeshift roads for Justiss Oil pumpjacks to suck black snot the earth

doesn’t blow.


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“Christmas Elegy with a Foot Out the Door”

….He tries to stand to say goodbye
as the labor of long years waters the stone of his hands
to bread that I shake while turning away
toward the truck I’ll take across the country
knowing this last look is the easy memory.

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“Dementia and the Diaspora of Family” & “I Told Him I Was too Far from Home for Him to Keep Falling”

Look at the azalea bush where your room
was once, the birdbath where your sister
used to sleep. All that’s left is the cement
you and your father poured for the floor
of his workshop. It’s all gone: the table
   and jig and mitor saws, the extension 
cords, and air compressors. It’s only gray
   cement and knotty boards soft with rot
after your uncle used it for a meth shed. 


 
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"Self-Portrait as a Liminal Space”

     ….              But today, you are not leaving.  
The combine blades haven’t hounded the jackrabbits
and field mice through the cane. 
 The Mississippi River, the Amite, the Tangipahoa, 
the Chattahoochee will all rise and fall, but now 
 as you cross The Basin Bridge, a tugboat putts 
                                beneath you down the Atchafalaya  
as your son wakes and asks, Are we almost home?
and you look back at him and still know where that is,
          will still have the right thing to say, the horn blowing
          behind you rising from muddy water running 
toward fantail tributaries and salted oil slicks in the Gulf.
 
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“Up an Over the Mountain”

                                                      …Dick, you know 
we vulture the passing. Who gets the tractor, 
 
the tiller, the pearl buttoned Wrangler shirts, 
          the Bible, the Old Timer
 
pocket knives, those few acres that are all 
          you know till you’re older? I’ve already taken 
 
a pair of his old glasses. They look just like mine, 
          and I put them on some mornings when the grog 
 
still lumbers my veins. It takes a bit, usually 
          the first pot of coffee, to realize I can’t see, 
 
that the prescription is off, that the lenses 
          are speckled with red garden dirt.

 
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“And There’d Be”
& “Elegy for the Pond”

                     …And there’d by hay on the backs of dogs
     straying from their plywood beds under the creosote pole
        with its flood light spasms: how the dogs would beg

for duck innards as we dressed the teals, mallards,
and gadwalls for gumbo. And there’d be the lastness of days
the dying learn to lean into—the last talk of fields,
the last talk of tractor repair. And there’d be
your dying grandpaw who felt the last touch of hay dust
when you pushed back his hair from his eyes, shook
his hand and walked away to that back pasture where cattle
would lick blocks of salt down to nothing.

 
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“Faith Healer”
& “Hurricane Party”

          We’ll lean forward, raise ourselves by our toes to sea-level. 

If tornadoes sound like train whistles, this is more like old shoes 
   banging in the dryer, your parents falling asleep to AM static. 

When the eye arrives, we’ll walk the road to check on the old folks, 
    fetch limbs, road signs, and mailboxes from the ditches. 

Soon we’ll gnaw the flesh inside our mouths. 
    Soon we’ll put our hands to the wall again.