- Aubade in a Red State, and: Oklahoma, and: County Fair
- Aubade in a Red State
Red like the fanned tail of the half-starved hawk mantlingover a cat, twelve weeks deep in drought, beak wet with the eye's sweet rot, the liver. Red like the dirtblown loose from thirst-gagged roots, twisting in little devils over brittle grass. Red like the contrails' lit cords burningacross the faces of the final stars, red like the sun's chapped smile come bleeding back from its respite. Red like the singletthe boy wears under a sweatshirt under a black plastic bag as he sprints every stairway in the stadium before weigh-intrying to shuck enough sweat from his flesh to let him wrestle smaller boys. Red like the diet pills that make him itch inside,make him crosshatch his body with scratches livid as wet clay. Red like the mat he drives the boys into, chin diggingat their shoulders as they flail like hooked crappies, red like the mat that should collapse right through the gym floor's polished slatsfor how hard he's pushing down. Red like the quarry brimful with a brazen sky, the only place he's ever felt lightenough, floating. Red like the heads of prairie fire lining the turnpike. Red like the oil derrick's clumsy skull rising,falling, bowing to the hilt of its unfillable hunger. [End Page 169]
Josh Myers is from Heidelberg, Germany. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Poetry North-west, Ninth Letter, Quarterly West, American Literary Review, and elsewhere. He edits Toad, studies law at Vanderbilt University, and lives in Nashville with his fiancée, Jessica Suchon, and their dog, Gracie.
1 We found woodchips buried in the scattered bricksof our shed once the big tornado died, the mile-wide F5 back in '99, pink fiberglass of split roofssoaking up the sewage spit back from storm drains, yards salted with broken glass and strangers' trash—we opened envelopes addressed to three towns over, threats to collect on credit debt, bills, a hubcapdecapitated our basketball hoop, a kitten turned up shuddering inside a chest of drawers standing unblemishedin the town square and news crews tore their blazers climbing piles of splintered wood to take its picture.
My family was fine by sheer luck. Dad laughedas he upturned the couch and loveseat, little prismsof fake safety we crawled into as the TV softenedto static and snapped black behind him. We curled upand nursed matching scratches from the puppy, who refusedto be saved by faded cushions and faux mahoganyand sat instead by the sliding glass door, watched our juniperprostrate itself, ascend, then crash down like a saintGod had a change of heart about halfway into the Rapture.I can't live here anymore, said my mom. But she did,
2 while I learnedto spit, to hook a minnow through the eyes and cast for bass, to nock an arrow with the fletching facing out
and let the string strain like a leashed dog against my fingers—Dad beside me, both of us boys, small-bodied, seven and twenty-seven years old, hunched or prone, quivers and tackle
boxes full of piercing instruments we used to claim dominion over perch, glowing like pyrite before breaching into outstretched nets, or squirrels, blood-slicked fur and kicking feet, whose heads [End Page 170]
we crushed for quiet. We suffered through church just to use the pastor's land. His stocked lake. The Lab who brought back buckshot-riddled ducks in dripping jaws, dropped them in the leaf-litter at our feet,
watched us rubbing recoil from our shoulders. Spent shells fell from borrowed shotguns. After hunting, once, we came home to the cramped apartment-complex parking lot seething
with police cars. Turned out a man upstairs and three doors over, self-styled heir of Timothy McVeigh, had stockpiled enough guns and pipe bombs to blow our building into dust. My parents watched...