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Somewhere South of Coldwater


for Reid

As night thickens, we slip

into lawn chairs, pour

a glass of merlot. Wichita’s

dim glow reminds

us where we are, though

you and I both know

we’re nowhere

but the edge of empty—

the hollow where our sons’

last steps, their self-inflicted

deaths tap and spatter.


Childless now, leaden

with legacies unbestowed,

we stumble into final

years and hereafters

we distrust, kingdom-comes

come and gone already,

nothing left

but all those miles

we still drive—backroads

and wind our solace,

silence our guide.


We uncork the bottle,

pour again. A breeze

sweeps August into dark

fields. The catalpa

by your ditch rustles

above a throb of crickets,

and I’m grateful

for this moment, the quiet

sense this is all

there is and ever will be.


But in the morning,

my friend, we’ll steer

again to Comanche County,

somewhere south of Coldwater—

into dust and treeless sky,

the long horizon

of what we cannot speak.


Honorable Mention in the 2017 Robinson Jeffers

Tor House Prize for Poetry. Published online at, May 2017.

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