/homeaway/

The drive home is a rabies shot, agitated,
you twitch from state line to county line
to places in between,
the coordinates slipstream daydreams —
You remember the road numbers:
145th, 194th
impossibly lengthy, made of pulverized
bonemeal and crunch coat,
those steel-cut graveled byways

You remember the inhabitants
rendered from bacon fat and ham hock
tourniquets and night shift salt licks
Or those pubertied boys and their
percussion kits behind the old band shell,
blasting canonfire flams back there
on Thursday nights, before the
sweating, stinking performance

of pops classics, patriotica,
the flags swatting the air,
or was that the yellowed sheet
music, free from clothespin
bondage?

Down here the roadkill too are
counted like coins & collected by the
tattered hillfolk who
totter around in busted jalopies,
scooping up the entrails,
the bones, the viscera,

to sell to those amish boys
out east, still green, their upper lips
moist with dew,
who ask no questions
except how much?

You have no more than an hour left
until your tires can rest,
nestle into their forever home
beside the barn who thought it’d
seen the last of you, back in

those lost, vacant years,
gobbled up by evenings
meant to leave a chill
in the marrow

Years of abandon (meant) missing father
and mother, gone to roam the county in
pursuit of a life lost, and you,
castaway, unspoilt then —
happy to oblige them your freedom

You and your
misfit friends carrying your
hands in theirs, side-by-side
you marched deep into those late night
walks to the highway

to lay there on the still-warm concrete
waiting for bandits to appear
at the top of the hill
so you could scatter — the thrill
of the hunt, but once

Once.

A passing car did stop after you
scurried away
into the woods that flanked the road,
their beams turning toward where you hid
until it slowly left you
there to die of laughter

And yet that same year…

Twice.

In July, homicides
the Everett boy slain somewhere
on Route ZZ, beyond the pine — (s)
tarry slats of defunct rail
nestled above his skull

The Magnolia Queen of
some years before
found buried in an unmarked,
shallow grave of dried clover ends,
her crown beside her, or so the
stories say

And you wish to return to this place?
To this middle realm,
where Death threatened adolescence for all those years,
lost & gone now,
this dusted basin of regret,
your homeaway,

that you once banished, marked as a
plaguestain, the proverbial gas mask
sucked to the hollows of your cheeks
as you fled to the astral elsewhere?

Best of luck with that then.
& Welcome home.

*

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

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