Joy and similar discontents
break on the all-weather radial hum,
on the defog rasping for a service call;

Break on the near treeless plain
stitched loose to the sky with rivets
of silos and grain bins – clouds
dive porpoise behind the rise.

Joy and similar discontents
hang like flowers on a bleach
wood cross surviving another winter
to tread sobbing on the green ditch water.

Every coordinate of the plains
etched by gravel side-ways and field
entries too rutted and ragged
to suit the conglomerate need

or the tilt houses and stripped clapboard
banging against the thistle, milkweed
and swallowed dreams in the foxgrass,
with turkey buzzards circling thermal.

But the crows plunge faster into red
fresh carrion sloughs of whitetail and coon
to breach at the presence of a larger scavenging –
and each bent marker tells its own tale.

Count the bullet holes and shotgun splatter
in the stops and yields when the road was empty,
when the night was dry, when the callous boys
had time on their hands instead of hog blood,

and badger-eyed girls that left after graduation,
for the starless haze, crowded parades,
sidewalk shops, umbrellas on the rain side
of things keeping each at arm’s length.

But it was never about the city,
never about the glitz and pizzazz
of everything running baffled into gridlock;
less about the thick dumb flannel boys.

It was always about that low fog,
the night eyes in the beams, the manure, chaff
and split seams of the midwest furrows,
the haybales that bob like rafts over the horizon.

Image: Sunset Haybales – Jason Wickens

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