Poetry from Tyler Atwood


Original image via Morguefile

another dream about real life I think

I look in the mirror & see fading light in the window
of the mobile home my father looks across the frozen
hayfield maybe if they had made it to spring maybe
holes in a shabby pair of Dickies palms blackened
by newsprint ice-filled cooler b/c there’s no gas
for the generator the missed land payments thick
envelopes stacked in the PO box [red-letters/caps-lock]
I see a coyote appear near the draw gaunt shadow
third time this week in fading light & the bleat
of an ambulance in the distance empty frozen pasture
screaming wind black ice on the road & a tire kicks a rock
into the windshield the only car that still runs got to haul
the bundles to sunrise chin up eye on the rear view in the dead
of winter he asks if I will help now I am a pallbearer in black
rewriting & rewriting & rewriting the eulogy b/c the ink keeps
disappearing I try to steady myself gauge the tempo long
deep breaths I carry the body heavy heavy I sink & sink & sink
beneath the casket I am covered w/ a handful of dirt
but my dreams are liars b/c the mortician let my grandfather rot
while negotiating payment we had to cremate him instead
I smell smoke from the woodstove they had before the roof caved
on the old place three or four winters back I smell the dogs that
kept the coyotes away I smell the hay but the sheep are gone
& the ground is too hard for the shovel to break it
I never saw the urn & b/c we lost the land I suppose we can’t
bury him there he’ll stay on the shelf in the mobile home
tucked w/ the photo albums to travel so far & never reach
the hearth I deserve no better put me in a jar

Tyler Atwood comes from a long line of subsistence farmers, but knows very little about the planting or harvesting of crops. He is the author of one collection of poetry, an electric sheep jumps to greener pasture (University of Hell Press, 2014). His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Profane Journal, Palaver, 1001 Journal, Word Riot, Lunch Ticket, and elsewhere. He lives and works in Denver, CO.

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