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The Country Western Poem

by Jeffrey Thomson

knows that first there is the matter
of your gargantuan patriotism
brandishing the stars and bars

of its own obstinate self-regard
to explore before the ekphrasis
of the pickup and the shotgun and

the reddog beside you is addressed—
triptych of American exceptionalism—
before you can come to the girl

in the halter and the Daisy Dukes,
that sass-talking schoolmarm
crossed with pole-dancer ingénue.

She will be waiting by the tracks that
tie up the landscape in glorious ribbons
of unending steel that ride on across

levies and soybeans, drop slow grades
and run beside rivers flowing deeply
as money into the consciousness

of a country too big for itself, a mess
of space and light going in and out
of black-and-white, the grainy

retrospective Americana of the split rail
and the water tower and the snapping flags
that refer back to the opening acts

of this little drama of a country as the light
turns golden in the west across the slow ticking
of the corn. She’ll be waiting to take you

into the honky-tonk accommodation
of her quite heaving bosom, forever
waiting to drive with you into a sunset

that glows like the flags and flames decal
in the window of the back of your truck—
the huge Hemi of it heaving and sobbing.


Jeffrey Thomson is the author of the memoir fragile and five books of poems, including his most recent, The Belfast Notebooks. Half/Life: New and Selected Poems is forthcoming from Alice James Books. He teaches creative writing at University of Maine Farmington. (9/2017)

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