Lamentations Road

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.

Tattooed bones

under skin.

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.

Written by : Patrick T. Reardon

For more than three decades Patrick T. Reardon was an urban affairs writer, a feature writer, a columnist, and an editor for the Chicago Tribune. In 2000 he was one of a team of 50 staff members who won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. Now a freelance writer and poet, he has contributed chapters to several books and is the author of Faith Stripped to Its Essence. His website is

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