City Paper 2013 Poetry Contest: Third Place

for James Agee

someone suggests we drag the television onto the lawn


into that bell jar of static the night has no part of us

fattened on shadows and rice and a few cheap fingers of liquor

our bodies oiled clocks each blade of grass

broadcast a different signal so there isn't grass

but a small ocean of polar bears and Baptist preachers

a weekend special about inner city schools

Bogart and malaria

you Jacob slick with gin wrestle that angel to the sidewalk

again the neighbors gather around 10 years from now

I'll want to know what kind of man forgets his heart

in the backseat of a taxicab I'll want to know

what kind of man talks so long he stops trusting the words

the television catches some voice coming off the mountain and we feel

like spies the way we clap we can't help it the clothes we wear


pig skins and scraps of the last generation's almanac

the red dust of hymnals the blood clotted fields

Chickamauga isn't far from here someone suggests we pack

the car tight as a war drum as a vibrato a church on Friday night

our chins close to the steering wheel the dashboard heat

sluggish off the late October engines another fifth of whiskey

another unfiltered please that borderline moon anxious

for a name for a few more miles over the limit somehow

we make it back without our wallets but no one complains

after everyone leaves you stay and we figure up

a new language

one meant to forget the night