THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2009

  WENDY KLEIN
COUNTRY MATTERS
 

Beware of the looseness of pick-up trucks
the cabs that jump up high, their backs
stuffed with hay bales, empty feed sacks.

Look out for their drivers - farm boys
with straw hats, wise eyes, who grow up
to hunt, fish, and vote for no taxes, more

guns; who stalk animals, dress in camouflage,
mount deer skulls, their antlers bony crowns;
their eye sockets startled still, hang them

in living rooms the size of auditoriums. Beware
of the patriarchs they become; men who lead
with their bellies, their belly laughs, who keep

their clocks set to summer time - an hour late
to stir them into action when their nightmares
get too close - to invite them into morning

from under the caves of eiderdowns, piled up to stave
off the chill of air conditioning never switched off
winter or summer, to cool the heat of judgment.

Avoid their square-fingered hands, ready to kill
or caress any old time. Beware of the Florsheim
shoes that lurk down below on coffee-table shelves,

sleeping with one eye open, set to walk away
without a word in more than one direction
at once - towards you and away from you.


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