We slow for town. The mausoleum shell
of a coaling tower, dead for fifty years,
bruises the air. The Kmart parking lot
glows in its ark of halogen, bearing trucks
and unluxurious cars; the surrounding dusk
is lit by dim stars held between the fingers
of women leaning against a chain-link fence
to smoke, and by the bleached rumor of moon.
This is their birth town, stoned, ill-fitted in
its black tar suit, one row of streetlamps half
asleep. Pole signs for vacant diners stretch
their EATs to the precarious dark. O how
each blind alley and church bleeds past us. O
how, at this speed, their lives resemble ours.
Originally published in River Styx
About Todd Smith
Born and raised in rural west-central Illinois, Todd Smith studied poetry, music, and math at the University of Virginia, and received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, River Styx, North American Review, Barrow Street, Palette Poetry, Meridian, Barren Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. He received Frontier Poetry’s 2017 Award for New Poets, and was a semi-finalist in the 2018 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest. A valuation actuary by profession, he lives in Des Moines, Iowa.
View all posts by Todd Smith →