Noir Nocturne (Small Town Impromptu)

Mark Wagenaar Click to

WagenaarMark Wagenaar is the 2014 winner of The Pinch Poetry Award, the 2013 James Wright Poetry Prize and other awards.  He has recently been named the University of Mississippi Summer Poet in Residence.  His debut manuscript, Voodoo Inverso, received the 2012 Felix Pollux Poetry Prize, and he has recently been accepted by the New Yorker, Field. Image, the Florida Review and The Missouri Review.  He and his wife Chelsea are doctoral fellows at the University of Texas in Denton.  He’s on Twitter @MarkGWagenaar.

Evening light steals in amongst the tulips
like a pickpocket’s hunger. Grain in the streets,
Midwest goldrush, tractors towing in trailers
piled high, long wains shaking their way in.
Half a horse shy of being a one horse town.
One plastic & foam deer per yard, shot to pieces,
a hundred wounds in each, a hundred arrowpoints,
a braille of absences clustered near the vitals.
I’d sooner trust my hand with a live cobra
than a razor-crowned broadhead—a stainless steel
pyramid of 3 or 4 blades meet at the tip.
No way to pick it up to screw it to the arrow.
No way to leave this town, they sometimes say,
except for the army. And at the road’s end—
doesn’t really matter which road, does it,
it’s every road—a truck on cinderblocks, & baggies
that go a hundred a gram, the quiet of snow settling
to the bottom of a Mountain Dew bottle, a slash
of want, of hunger, I cannot guess at. Here’s one way
it works—the only bar in town runs it out the back.
So yeah, the sheriff says he knows who’s cooking,
but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone, until a fire
blows out the windows, & yellow tape borders
the property. Here’s another: hauled around
in a car behind a tow truck, so if you’re stopped,
it’s someone else’s. I’ll be a tourist here all my life,
in this town without a stoplight, beneath streetlights
orange as sorrow, where the abandoned theater
beams a light of names of those who disappeared
onto a cracked screen, where the water tower echoes
with the passing years, & the weed grows innocently
beside the corn. I’ll be a tourist this evening, too,
half rumor & half lost hour, I’m dewclaw
& peepshow, a cat’s extra life no one’s even heard of.


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