Prairie Poetry  peer award 
  Liberal, Kansas

Just outside this misnomer,
telephone poles totter like drunken men,

horses eat fence posts and crows settle reluctantly,
like so many migrant workers dotting the fields.

Next to the National Beef slaughterhouse,
I cannot help but notice, of course, the mounds of tires

overgrown as tombs in an old cemetery,
and the empty motels with motionless faces lined

like headstones along a dusty highway.  Downtown
there are blotches of faded pink and blue

houses, and a rusted Chevrolet pickup, bumper sagging
into yesterday.  There, I also cannot help but spot Main Street,

bearing a fat migrant woman who laughs a peaceful Kansas brook
as she envelops her twittering daughters in hugs,

then leans back—casually, lovingly—into their bent and balding father
as if slowly straightening some bowed old telephone pole.

  Jesse Zerger Nathan
  Copyright © 2006 Jesse Zerger Nathan
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