Lost Highway

Bobby Rogers Click to

Headshot Bobby C. RogersBobby C. Rogers is Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.  His book Paper Anniversary won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and was nominated for the Poets’ Prize.  LSU will publish his next book, Social History, in early 2016 as part of their Southern Messenger Poets series.  He has recently received a grant from the NEA and been named Witter Bynner Fellow at the Library of Congress.  He lives in Memphis with his wife and son and daughter.

you’ll curse the day… 
—Hank Williams

Years after the fact, he would say it was just the right time to make a move when he was
           invited to come into the bank, but he could see his path
blocked by the bank president’s son, a man his very age and already groomed to rise. So
           clung to the safe job. Too late to take anything back
the day the news came that the banker’s son had died of a heart attack at the mahogany
           desk in his father’s office. If our fates are fitted neatly
into the pans of a scale, it might have been anything that tipped the balance, any wrong
           turn or luckless cut of the cards, something as unlikely, even,

as losing the autograph—Elvis Presley coming down the driveway of Graceland in 1958,
           braking a showroom clean Duo-Glide Harley
next to the cranked down window of his just as shiny Chevy Bel-Air, twenty-four payment
           slips left in the loan book. The singer called him sir,
wrote out an autograph and handed the scrap of paper to his wife, six-months pregnant
           with their first child, the sweet ending of a spring day spent
shopping and sight-seeing before the hour-long drive back to their teaching jobs in a
           Tennessee town hardly big enough to have use for a school.

Or when he was a boy, keeping still under a sweat-soured quilt, trying to hide from the
           polio virus settled in one leg’s large muscles, the afternoon
of his highest fever, and through the unscreened window he could hear his parents
           reaching a decision on where to bury him. Might as well say
it all turned on the morning he was born, piercing the room with his first cried out
           description of what had befallen him, and every time
the wind nudged at the curtains, the room’s shadows gave shape to a ragged patch of
           sunlight shifting its restless edges on the floorboards.


One Response to Lost Highway

  1. LeeAnn Derdeyn says:

    I enjoyed these two poems more than anything I’ve read in a good while. Keep telling your storied poems.

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