Zoning tape and timber ruins in a landscape: how pretty goes the night, how pretty go the stars like a thousand cigarettes thrown from the hand of a diesel truck driver speeding down one of America’s gutted highways. Rising floodwaters outside Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Bismarck, and Toledo. Trailer parks blown apart in last week’s tornado. Reduced rent for mobile homes that won’t survive the summer. Don’t you read the paper? A child throws dirty laundry into plastic suitcases. Windows above her bed shatter once the hail kicks in. Don’t you watch CNN? Save your money for the new hotel, for the red wine that complements your fucking steak. The pistol shakes in the sheriff’s right hand when he hauls me in for trespassing. O father, I have never seen your face. O hunter, I dedicate this arson to your rural grave. Listen: my name is Derek and I burned your fucking steak.

October 18, 2020

Derek Graf

Derek Graf's poems have been featured in The Journal, Portland Review, Passages North, Salt Hill, and elsewhere. He received his MFA from Oklahoma State University, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Kansas. He teaches in the English Department at Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma City.

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