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Topeka

A woman lives in this park at the edge of town. She screams at the trees. She eats at the mission. She charges her phone at the library. She steals vodka from the liquor store. And at night she fights sleep, terrified of her dreams.

Fuel in the water, ice on the lines

Miles and miles of turbines day and night harvesting the wind tearing at the sky. All these towns now filled with ghosts but the lights must stay on until the bitter end.

Last free exit

Bright lights, black lights. Smell the same.

Sweet and sticky
desperation and sex.

Sitting here in the bright dark
putting his last twenty into g-string
or slot machine.

Hoping somehow he can win a
different life.

Escape velocity

The street light blinking out a warning in Morse code
A late November storm turning Nebraska dirt to Kosovo mud
Are not signs of better things to come.

The sun is warm, the wind is cold

I’ll sleep on the floor of a drained ocean
in the shadow of a once jagged
coastline.

And I’ll dream of you sometime
between dark and night
While the Air Force drills
for nuclear war
somewhere between
Laramie and Big Springs.

Abandoned churches and deserted graveyards

I recognize the way she walks, arms stiff at her sides; the way she sits down, heavily and with a sigh. She looks sad. Sitting there in the blazing sun, waiting for a city bus to take her somewhere she doesn’t want to go. It’s Halloween and her face is painted. And I hope that the sadness is just a part of the costume, something she can wipe away at the end of the day.

The implements of war come home

The cicadas are out again. In the trees screaming like some out of control machine.

All the trucks resting here, sighing diesel into the night. The waning moon dragging itself into the sticky Kentucky sky.

I’m awake but tired. And hoping to make Atlanta before the sun.

Charge me your daily rate

All night, FedEx wide-bodies
from Beijing and Tokyo
Berlin and London
stacked above Memphis and
waiting to land.

And all day too
landing two by two.

Never will we need
so much freight.

All the world’s wealth
crushing Tennessee
into

Mississippi.

All cattle are killed the same

The first chiseled their messages into stone.
The next carved their messages into wood.
The afterthats printed their messages onto paper.

And the forgottens blow their messages into the cloud.

And pin my medals to my chest

Probably you will be alive when I die.
So bury me naked in the dirt.
As soon as you can.
Without chemicals. Without bibles.
Away from the water.
And facing the sky.