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Spring/Summer 1998, Volume 15.2

Poetry

 

Ron McFarland


Ron McFarland (PhD, University of Illinois) is Professor of English and creative writing at the University of Idaho and has published
The World of David Wagoner (University of Idaho Press, 1997).
  Read other work by Ron McFarland published in Weber StudiesVol. 8.1 (fiction)Vol. 12.1 (poetry), Vol. 17.0 (essay)Vol. 17.1 (fiction)Vol. 19.3 (fiction),  Vol. 22.2 (essay), Vol. 23.1 (Fiction).

 

At the Konkolville Steakhouse

The pale and wan tomatoes do their best 
to taste like something, anything at all. 
It's so deep in January only broccoli, 
sauerkraut and cottage cheese feel up to it. 
The guy in the comer wearing the grim 
green John Deere cap works at the mill next door 
"for a mean, vicious son-of-a-bitch," 
he tells the waitress. She says she knows, 
she's heard it all before. Of course 
the bacon bits are not the real thing, 
but sawdust and soy beans have their rights 
in Idaho, and the sourdough is good. 
The country music makes ambiguous moan, 
questions that could be answers: 
"Anybody break your heart? Anybody 
done you wrong?" Do you know when to fold 'em 
under the slice of red spiced apple 
where the exhausted lettuce wilts? 
The cowboy in the quilted coat and dirty Stetson 
says he's leaving for Lewiston 
where he can do all his shopping at Wal-Mart. 
The woman with him says "not tonight 
for chrissake." Choice top sirloin 
all over the world have united, 
thrown away their chains. They will not be 
medium-rare! All or nothing! Moderation 
breeds cowardly bourgeois gourmets. 
Tricked out in tin foil, the baked potato 
flexes its russet muscle. It is 
where the action is, hardy carbohydrate 
equal to January, unintimidated. 
"I never meant to hurt you," 
croons the Nashville cowboy. "I still love you 
after all these years." But it's hard to digest 
even the best of steaks, sweet darlin', 
through this vale of tears.

 

Dangerous Weather

Last night the newscaster said snow, 
said avalanches in the mountain passes, 
said population would reach six billion 
worldwide by the turn of this century 
if you want to know what the real blizzard 
is all about.

                    He looks like a nice guy, 
just the way he's supposed to. That's why 
they hired him, a broad friendly smile, 
nut-brown well-combed hair, comfortably forty 
forever, your father in his prime, your 
favorite uncle.

                       He grins sympathetically 
right through those passengers stranded 
in airports, asleep on relentless benches 
in bus terminals. He shakes his head 
sadly at the old Chevrolet crumpled 
under the semi. He wishes he could do 
something about all this, but he can't, 
and it's not his fault.
                                  But he sees things. 
He sees there are too many of us in this 
stormy world. He sees in his monitor 
how we keep getting in each other's way, 
how we slide disastrously into each other 
as if hitting patch after patch of black ice.

 
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