Joplin, poem by Michael Thompson

Once the war ended,
there wasn’t any­thing else to do
except play the horses
and hoist a few pints
at Tin­horn Flats
where the sticky surface
of no-pest strips
hang­ing behind the bar
are caked with flies

Wait­ing on long shot lives
to come in,
those who take themselves
far too seriously
rarely reap rewards
and tena­cious is their resolve
to nev­er stray far
from embed­ded roots

When fac­to­ries pack up
for alter­na­tive lodging
just like a cir­cus tent,
the sales of cigarettes
and grain alco­hol increase
while mat­ri­mo­ny collapses
under the strain of a bleak future

Crum­bling down inside,
pin­ball wiz­ards and gallery queens
lit­ter the boardwalk
every Sat­ur­day night
until ver­bal fisticuffs
lead to race riots

If there was a cast­ing call
for those who are afraid
to suc­ceed at all costs,
the entire pop­u­la­tion of Joplin
might just show up

Michael N. Thomp­son is the result of a debauched three­some between Neal Cas­sady, Anne Sex­ton and Dar­by Crash. His poet­ry has appeared in numer­ous lit­er­ary jour­nals includ­ing The Mon­tucky Review, Word Riot, Toron­to Quar­ter­ly, Lum­mox Press and The Hobo Camp Review. He is the author of four poet­ry col­lec­tions, the most recent being Ver­bal Alche­my (Blunt Trau­ma Press, 2012) and the forth­com­ing A Mur­der Of Crows (Uni­ver­si­ty Of Hell Press, 2014). Michael lives among the pas­tures and pines in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. He doesn’t care much for meter and rhyme. His web­site is www​.michael​nthomp​son​.com

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