How said the field
the stream strewn, loggered-up
with bodies. Thick with bent limbs
& bloat, the blur of bird wing.
Before the harvest, the well
ordered crops of grey & blue.
Smoke & clamor, the red
fruit—men packed into formation
& graves. Tumult of the South’s
green becoming orange
with flame & if a bayonet can
open a man, then what
about the West?

Room to lose himself in,
forget the ordered horror
of war…unspoilt—everything
awaiting his touch (or so
he thinks). The bad feelings
only coming back late
in the night. Late into
day’s haul when the fog hobbles
vision & amplifies the mind,
weirds the ear, the sound cannon
fire can travel, even across the wilderness
—land unrolled like carpet & how
a man can’t imagine the pattern
he’d put down until he knows
the bounds of fiber, the ends
of weft (history is written, but
in this space) It’s unimagined yet.

A cultured & sensitive man
beset by financial problems & later
a grizzly.
But this account has been
lost & will be unable to be
resurrected on the page
& here, history
has already been made
& is in the making, so
let us begin. The war
receding, the wind picking
up & St. Louis no longer
outpost, but not yet center
of a nation, an ever-hungry realm.

For more information about this piece, see this issue's legend.

Jory Mickelson’s work has appeared in journals in the United States, Canada, and the UK. He is the recipient of an Academy of American Poet’s Prize and a Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry. His first full-length collection WILDERNESS//KINGDOM is forthcoming from Floating Bridge Press.

46.611510, -119.294125

Certain places in the world stand outside of time. This is the case with a small-town café I discovered on a road trip through eastern Washington. When I entered, it took my breath away. I was flooded with a nostalgia that can’t be explained or explained away. Nothing in the restaurant had been updated since it opened, but it was spotlessly clean. One could tell it was loved by the owners who were also the cook and the waitress. The café is now closed and will recede into the past. But I continue to dream about it.