Oct/Nov 2004 Poetry

Jesse Willis, Hard and Low

by Tim Peeler

Jesse Willis, Hard and Low

He was tautly-muscled by work,
ground down by the chase,
raccoon-eyed by shadows,
storming toward the grave.

His old Ford pickup, a
growling gray-primered ghost,
his woman, a black-rooted,
tired, skinny, slapped blonde,

He was savoring the burn
of liquor in his throat,
steering Greedy's Highway
with one meaty hand,

pounding to a Drive-By Truckers
song, Skynyrd, watch out oak tree
guitars and such, the night one
big dark beautiful beast.

He was not thinking
about school clothes his kids needed,
about building furniture frames,
about the scholarship he passed on,

or the way the world once looked
from a pitcher's mound.
He was not thinking
of doctors' daughters

or their spreading cheerleader legs;
he was wholly without
hatred or fear or dreams of
chains and cages.

He was, however, raccoon-eyed
by shadows like a pitcher
in a fast sunny game, his cap
pulled down hard and low.


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