poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

occasions

About this Poem 

“I regained my South this year, a place I’ve fled, a place I charge and change by living in it. When I moved to Kent County, people—neighbors, colleagues, the postmaster—thought I should know that here was the last place in the United States to desegregate its public schools. It seemed a place as good as any to learn the ugly interior of ourselves.”
James Allen Hall

A Home in the Country

Down on Comegys Road, two miles
from the Rifle Club that meets Wednesdays,
summer to fall, firing into a blackness
they call night but I know is a body,
in unpaved Kennedyville, not far
from the Bight, on five acres of green
organic farm, next to the algaed pond
that yields the best fishing in all of Kent County
(my neighbor says it is a lingering death I deal
the trout when he sees me throw the small
bodies back), down where the commonest
cars are tractors and hayfetchers, and men
wave as they pass, briefly bowing a gentleman’s
straw hat, you can find the wood cabin
where I live, infested with stink bugs. 
Every day, my boyfriend asks the murder count,
making light of my hatred. Even reading I sit,
swatter poised on the couch’s arm,
all the windows closed, fans off, the whole house
listening for the thwat of stink alighting
smartly on sun-warmed glass, their soft-backed
geometric carapaces calling to be stopped. 
I did not grow up like this, here
on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, but I am most
at home now I live with something inside to kill. 

Copyright @ 2014 by James Allen Hall. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright @ 2014 by James Allen Hall. Used with permission of the author.

James Allen Hall

James Allen Hall

James Allen Hall is the author of Now You’re the Enemy (University of Arkansas Press, 2008). He teaches at Washington College and lives in Kennedyville, Maryland.

by this poet

poem

After he died, my father made
whole, I could see him next
to my mother as she smoked
on the couch, his face more alive
than at Christmas, the last time
I saw him, struggling to lift his cup. 
I knew beyond my body, now he’d died,
he could show off a row of teeth, wry

2
poem

I burn your Highland Park. I acid your Carnegie
car dealerships. Your Squirrel Hill, sheer terror
in winter. But most of all, I hate your Liberty Avenue,
the last place, one night, I saw my closest friend
saying, Wait here, outside the after-hours club. I wait,
hating your Strip,

poem

We’re not from here. We don’t aria, we warble. 
We wore suits to get here, rumpled by the hot car ride. 
Pumped our own gas. In Heaven two days,

still the custom shirtlessness offends.  Like it’s the g-d
French Rivera. (You say it yours.  We’ll say it the right way.) 
Nor do we au revoir.

2