Between States

Twenty miles into Ohio,

sky shifts downward,
opens wide to hide hills,
pries the “hi” from the sides of its name.
There a man sits in the middle of his life
at the end of a long, asphalt driveway.
He is waiting for Ohio to stop smiling,
blows smokey O’s into its O’s,
turns his hometown face away.

Old enough to recognize a con,
he still wants to be wrong,
favors the fake friendship,
the grinning fields.

Where is the river’s rich voice
to argue him home?
The unstrange land in the stranger?

Too long the dandelions—
cavalier and convinced they are carnations—
two-stepped to his door,
saluted each entrance and exit;
too long the cardinal flapped furiously
away at his hello.

He fingers fallen buckeyes,
their blind eyes overlooking
what he’s lost, then aims
toward some imaginary boundary
that even now turns beautifully
at the edge of the dead field
into another world
not here.


This poem was previously published in Fiddleblack and in Homeland: Writing about Homelessness (FutureCycle Press).