I never did get back to Topeka.

What was the point? There were pipe bombs

in every direction. Just like here.

Up n down. Forward, back.

Horizon to horizon. Moon to moon

n Grandma's down eight fingers n falling

into her chili n chips as Pop Pop swears at Quick Draw

and little Lena gets off the bus n walks into

the dim lit, dimwit, gimlet, gin house that

only the brave defy. Which is why I'm here.

Hiding behind happy hour. My religion lost

and my faith failing fast. Each dark minute

hauling itself forward. Towards the water.

Towards the morsel. Towards the dead legends

I call my own and number myself

among. We jump off in droves.

The chasm yawning. The darkness rushing by.

Just grow soldiers they say,

reminding me a lot of what I heard

back in Topeka. Where prairie winds

blow rust and water mains burst

just like that. Just like everywhere else

neglected by its people. Dismissed as a political problem

when, in fact, it's a culture. A question of folklore

and the lack thereof. No present. No past.

No holds barred when it comes to demise

and the dollars it makes. Squalor. Contempt.

A breed I've indebted myself to. A ruined lineage.

Just like Topeka.