PoetryIssue 19 | December 2013

Tell Me The Road

by Michael Pearce

I’ve been to a town where the women wear beards
and the men dance high on a table
and I slunk back home with my hair in a bowl
and a mouthful of curds and sable.

Kiss me Calhoun and stand over there
and tend to the London broil
and wink at the wench with the tear tattoo
and fill the lamp with oil.

Tell me the road runs north a while
before it falls to the west
say the summer will hold its balls and laugh
until this lad stops to rest.

For my time was up the day before Lent
’twas a Mardi as gras as a grocer
and the girl I loved ran off with a cop
and I crawled back to the coast sir.

Oh I know a man with a nose like a prick
and a prick like a weasel’s wimple
and a mole on his face or some smelly place
and an arse like the bishop’s dimple.

Fuck yourself Farnsworth and Barnum and Ford
and tell the Good Lord I said so
and while you’re at it tell Him to come
to the end of the road if He dares to.

And here I’ll be waiting with gun and with gall
and here I’ll be waiting with humor
for the Dad with a beard who gave me this bread
not to mention the gout and a tumor.

And fuck yourself virgin and midwife and mum
and wet nurse and queen of the harbor
and cut off my face to spite this big nose
let me bleed to death at the barber.

So kiss me Calhoun and stand over there
and tend to the London broil
and wink at the wench with the tear tattoo
and fill the lamp with oil.

And remember the one who said what you meant
and the one whom no one could save
and remember him first and then again last
the one who loved only the grave.

About the author

Michael Pearce’s favorite job so far was at a science museum that actually paid him to direct a documentary about indigenous wayfinding in northwest Australia, northern Alaska, and eastern Polynesia. His poems have appeared in The New Guard, Nimrod, Reed, and, yes, elsewhere.

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