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   o d e    t o    t h e    m i d w e s t

--- D A V I D   F L O Y D   A N D   A B R A H A M   S M I T H

I am a small-block, high-octane fuel-injected, 4-barrel                     
street-legal carb of testosterone.

I am a peeping robin. I am the b.b. aimed at song.

I grow the seed's beard first, my milk was the penitentiary,

my bourbon was church, and my home was in the milkweeds along Belleau Lake.

Along the lake, I caught a tooth-- my sister's fishy milk tooth came back to me

into my brother's cheekbone the way my crazy Uncle Lou's `54 T-Bird

ate flecks of rust. Ate them like roosters throat rain.

Ate them like the French eat Brie. Ate them like a Tuscan eats pappardelle pasta.

Pasta was my god when I was young, but the water was strangled by it.

I want to measure my life out with the dirty coffee spoons at the diner on Auxiliary Route 18,

with the tallow-soaked forks-- they do a curtsy to Buck's false eye

and one wooden leg and tattoo of the girl who's now a woman who never loved him

the way the thistle loves the vine, the way vine sucks dirt like Ma cow by calf sucks sky,

the way the sky no longer holds a god for me-- but I still see possibility, pollution, and a jetliner

pilfering the crow's sweat, barking out a line similar to bone

and Alpo tin cans, and `70s muscle cars propped up on 8 cinder blocks in driveways.

The dead deer ready to be dressed. The greased kid ready to be blessed

by Catholic incense, unblessed holy water, and the red dirt and clay of St. Charles county.

I get a lump in my throat thinking of the stone and bone, king and queen, sunk there

by Mr. Jump and his thirty-ought-six, his satinflowers and blue corn dying on the farm

like eyelids dyed the color of dirt. Dirt is always what was muscle

and almost always what never was meant to be left up to the Midwestern sky.

The sky is the grub's brethren, the grub what hooks with hooks, what I pray with--

Raisin Bran, perfect snowflakes that are perfect with imperfection, and school buses with faces

with junked-up socks--grubby eyed. I blew red, white, and blue mucus

out of the American Dream, out of the Midwestern blues and country songs, out of my backyard

where lightning bugs mimic livers, my father, my Midwest far cry.

© crossconnect 1995-2002 |
published in association with the |
university of pennsylvania's kelly writers house |