Terrible Music

Grant Clauser


It was the summer after a tornado,
the classes over, and debris
piled at the end of the road.
You slowly packed the house
while I left each morning to wait
for a pickup to take me to a field
where all day the Ohio sun leaned on
my shoulders. I loaded bean plants
or peppers into the planter, the tractor
dragging down tilled rows that paralleled
a freight train pulling evening
from Youngstown to Defiance.
Red clay dust caked the back of my hands
edging small plants into the machinery,
the engine too loud for thinking,
just the terrible music of gears
and toil. At sundown I loaded
into the pickup again, then dinner bent
over a small table, beer cans cold
against my brow, and you moving
around the house while your mother
was sick in another state. So much
more to do, ready to leave
this town, this gravel road, ride
the turnpike back to Pennsylvania
where every radio station breaks up
before you recognize the tune.


Grant Clauser lives in Pennsylvania and works as an editor and teacher. He is the author of the books Reckless Constellations, The Magician’s Handbook, Necessary Myths and The Trouble with Rivers. Poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review and others. He can be reached on twitter at @uniambic


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