By Patrick T. Reardon
Lamentations Road runs past
Judge Westcott’s mansion, out
to Weed Hollow where a dead
mule rots, a pestilence of flies,
while I rock in the sun, another
broken part of the machine.
The Adolphus Smythe County
courthouse sits like a giant
toad off Maine Street along
Dakota Highway (Route 77), at
one time the fastest way to San
Francisco from Boston through
prairie dust thunders and rolling
green boredom and snow logic.
You know because
you read the book.
Her blood soaked into the cracks of
sidewalk, jagged grass-stalk garden,
in front of Brady’s Old Style as rigs
rhythmed past on Dakota, as the
constant streetlight gazed down
like an absent-minded deity.
One of her wigs was employed
to cover the hole, and an angry
nephew hid the gun in the foot of
the casket, slid into the flames;
bullets exploded; Mike Shannon of
Shannon and Sons Funerals was
unctuous in his unsaid fury.
The box held her ashes and the
twisted metal of the gun and the
cracked, warped rods that had
held her back together through
much of sixty-four years; sent FedEx
to her son in Alaska, set off alarums;
NSA sifted through her grit and
relics for another bomb.
I hate Judge Westcott’s want of
question, Mike Shannon’s soft palms,
Brady behind his joke, that wan,
bewildered boy for fleeing to
Alaska when he had the chance.
My diary was found in the flood three
springs after I had uncomposed my
poem on that midnight sidewalk, and
the stolid second-grade boy hid it, a
private scripture, in the crawlspace,
even though he was spanked for getting
muddy, twice. He learned a lesson.
Waltz, baby, waltz.
Music the Lord’s echoes.
An over-muscled garbage truck, with
clumsy speed, bumps through the
Weed Hollow potholes and heads to
the McDonald’s on Colossians Street
where it’s Big Macs for all, including
the earbud yellowvest sitting alone,
eyes 1,000 miles away, mouthing the
revival lyrics of “Running down the
Halls of Heaven” by The Humbled
Ones. He went to a special school.
Patrick T. Reardon
The poem originally appeared in La Piccioletta Barca on 11.1.19.