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by Scott Ruescher

Back for more punishment and pleased to be alone at last
After three gruesome days of watching the color television
Flicker in the hearth like a pre-nuclear, Paleolithic, pioneer fire, I notice
That the willow engraved on the headstone before me
In the settler's graveyard at the southern end of my hometown
Looks just like the one that I used to swing so high above

The mud-brown creek from, by a thick nylon rope, back
When I was young; that the coin-fed clocks of parking meters
In the forty-acre parking lot on the slope to the creek below
Tick with maddening regularity now on the hollow iron poles,
Where silken-tasseled cobs ripened on fibrous green stalks that ran
Parallel to the creek in the same contoured rows as those;

That where wagons bearing grain to market or people to church
Once creaked to town on the Wyandot hunting trail
That my ancestors widened, cars constantly downshift
At the busy suburban intersection, careen onto access roads,
And screech to a stop at the light—all because the air-raid drills
We heard in the 50s and 60s when the Cold War was raging

Began with a horn as shrill as a horde of doped-up nymphs
Driven from their newly subdivided dales to mourn
The satyrs who'd been busted for breaking and entering and vagrancy
And shackled to the steel bars of the local jail all morning
While the sirens of ambulances from the hospital across the creek
Thrill up the hill, one after the other, with everyone's next anxiety pill.


Scott Ruescher coordinates the Arts in Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and teaches in the Boston University Prison Education program. Sidewalk Tectonics, his 2009 chapbook from Pudding House Publications, takes the reader on a road-trip from Lincoln’s birthplace in Hodgenville, Kentucky, to the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder in Memphis. (updated 1/2011)

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