City Paper 2013 Poetry Contest: Third Place

for James Agee

someone suggests we drag the television onto the lawn
into that bell jar of static the night has no part of us
fattened on shadows and rice and a few cheap fingers of liquor
our bodies oiled clocks each blade of grass
broadcast a different signal so there isn't grass
but a small ocean of polar bears and Baptist preachers
a weekend special about inner city schools
Bogart and malaria
you Jacob slick with gin wrestle that angel to the sidewalk
again the neighbors gather around 10 years from now
I'll want to know what kind of man forgets his heart
in the backseat of a taxicab I'll want to know
what kind of man talks so long he stops trusting the words
the television catches some voice coming off the mountain and we feel
like spies the way we clap we can't help it the clothes we wear
pig skins and scraps of the last generation's almanac
the red dust of hymnals the blood clotted fields
Chickamauga isn't far from here someone suggests we pack
the car tight as a war drum as a vibrato a church on Friday night
our chins close to the steering wheel the dashboard heat
sluggish off the late October engines another fifth of whiskey
another unfiltered please that borderline moon anxious
for a name for a few more miles over the limit somehow
we make it back without our wallets but no one complains
after everyone leaves you stay and we figure up
a new language
one meant to forget the night

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