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Burning Arkansas

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Burning Arkansas

The road from our five dark years crosses the Mississippi,

where a sign on the bridge welcomes all travelers,

runaways, and deserters to Tennessee.  The future

from here is Route. 40, extending from Memphis


to Virginia like a concrete tongue.  In the rear view

is our newly abandoned long-ago; the blue-collared

boroughs where poverty arrived like a fighter plane,

raining napalm over warehouses, factories,


and families.  Vacant homes stand behind mailboxes that smolder

on skeletal frames. Their tin mouths choked with unpaid debt:  Final notice.

Payment past due.  In the streets are job lines where hobbled figures

huddle around fire licked metal drums; their voices shrill


like the thin yelp of strangled animals.  We drive

on through Tennessee, stopping twice for gas;

our future that’s snaked out before us, not quite as bright

as those orange sparks that splatter the skyline.