KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Poem: 188 words


by James Dunlap
Riding out the backcountry in my father’s pickup, 
I watch the fields sink and scatter into summer dark. 
This, the sum of all things forgotten or lost out here. 
It all comes back like a hot gust of wind through the open window 
and I think of what it takes to live here; to sit on the dock on Lake Overcup 
and watch the night grow thick with mosquitoes, 
knowing what you leave is the same as what you run to. 
It takes a certain kind of person to appreciate what is born of this place. 
Good tomatoes—those blistered globes heavy with seeded blood, 
the way the sun strikes the face of Petit Jean Mountain, or the glint 
of a sharp axe blade, the sound of a clean hammer stroke, 
the way the nail sinks up in the wood. People out here, 
the ones that stay, I mean, they understand that it means something, 
the way the trees litter the hills, headstones without names, just dates, 
every sunk and broken porch, it all has to mean something 
to live on land that has broken better men.

James Dunlap
Issue 3, Spring 2015

is currently an MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Other poems have appeared in Heron Tree, The Dirty Napkin, and Weave.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

April Fourth Nineteen Ninety Seven, a poem in The Dirty Napkin (Volume 6, 2013); includes audio

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