Peter Croteau, Remnants of Bixler Hardware/Main St. Jukebox, Stroudburg, PA, 2009 (photograph)

Arrive in town the moment a scythe becomes a weapon,
something a boy flashes in a stable to capture
the darkest spots of a horse’s eye. Arrive sober,
but with enough money to buy a roomful of drinks
for the men who were that boy, who arrived early
with bottles in hand to make their own leaving easy.
Walk downtown, carry yourself like a suitcase past women
who carry themselves like drawers. When the first
asks your name, answer by lighting her cigarette.
The second: answer by saying you have a bus to catch.
Miss your bus. Keep walking past the crossroads
until you meet a man who tells you where to put your hands.
Offer him money, but hear him ask for your shoes.
Watch him point the direction a Greyhound echoes
and follow the road like a man who forgets
enough booze or remembers buried bottles. Here,
when it is quiet enough to hear the next boy walking,
a woman will tell you your name & where to speak it:
the dark circles of a barn as a woman bites your neck,
the chest on which a tattoo dries into another river,
the river where you wash the blood & soak your hands.

 

Tyler Kline