PoetryIssue 02 | December 2008

Country Procession

by Trace Estes

Our line of cars crossed narrow spans
straddling fetid spaces with names
like creek, brook or spring,
but in a Kansas August the bridges
merely acted as points of reference.

Experience had each driver maintain
a buffer zone to avoid the rooster tail
of grit kicked up by the previous car.
Cars encountered, tractors passed
in their fields, even folks in side yards—
any activity ceased upon recognizing
the meaning behind the procession of lights.
Hands joined; children got tugged
closer and all manner
of hats, caps, kerchiefs were removed.

Out here, to save time, crops measured
in the mile, but were themselves surrounded
by Whitman’s limitless and lonesome prairie.
Late summer grasses and forbs, burned
and grazed earlier that year, stood
nearly knee-high, but gave no hint
to the complex roots
beneath the surface. The cemetery,
bulls-eyed to a gridwork of wheat, soy
and milo, announced itself with a fieldstone wall
that snuck out from cornstalks, grew
in height, then transformed the last
fifty yards to wrought iron.

Passing under an archway—the letters
of MOUNT HOPE silhouetted with gravel dust—
we wormed through thin lanes
until stopping near the middle of the brown,
brittle graveyard. The sky-blue
canopy—as if a piece of horizon
had dropped to mark the site—set
next to a mound of dirt covered
by a lime-green carpet of fake grass.
With the tent’s artificial shade beckoning,
engines began dying one at a time, doors
popped open, and that was the only invitation
heat needed to join the mourners.

About the author

Trace Estes, managing editor of Alsop Review, lives in the Shadows and likes the view. For thirty-five years, he has been forced to write by a pissed-off demon with a trident. Recent publications include Tilt, WORM #34, kaleidowhirl, Centrifugal Eye and the print anthologies Mind Mutations and Slow Dancing to Invisible Music.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok