Knoxville Breakdown in C#
Along the wharf the gray river
stretches out, sunning like a long snake
in the copper light. A lone pickup rushes
across the bridge, blaring country music.
The night shift at UPS lets out.
On a street downtown, dark windows
watch the lumbering street cleaner
shushing slowly by. The driver
in an Insty Print van stares after
a young woman jogging past him,
the red light glaring overhead.
In the third-grade classroom
at the old elementary, a radiator rattles
out steam near Billy Tedesko’s desk.
A blast of blue ink on the lid propels
a fat space ship toward the crude heart
still holding RJ’s love for ST.
Down the left lane of Kingston Pike,
a mongrel trots past shadowy mansions
where dogwoods droop white bouquets
over front walks. Southerly winds blow in
a flotilla of clouds big as aircraft carriers.
After the night’s long rain,
morning came back sunny
in the sycamores by the house.
It was too early for Calimer
to rattle up in his old Ford
so we waited in the wet grass
by the road. While I watched
for the pickup, Grandma
smoothed out wrinkles in her
white apron, veins twisting
her thin hands like tree roots.
Standing there, we had nothing
much to say to each other.
I chucked rocks into puddles.
She stared off to the hills
where she had people she’d
never see again. Later, she
stretched high to reach into
the leaves for the red berries
of one wide summer day,
an old lady working down
the long row, fading into shade,
the way a stray cloud melts
slowly into nothing but sky.
RON STOTTLEMYER lives in Helena, Mt. After a long career of teaching and scholarship at colleges and universities, he is returning to his love of writing poetry. His work has appeared in Alabama Literary Review, The Sow’s Ear, The American Journal of Poetry, Streetlight Magazine, Stirring, West Texas Literary Review, Temenos, South Florida Poetry Journal, Twyckenham Notes, Split Rock Review, Rust and Moth, The Worcester Review, and The MockingHeart Review. One of his poems, “Falling,” (Twyckenham Notes, Summer 2018) has won a Pushcart Prize and will appear in the 2020 edition of the prize poems and other literary works.