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Home / Issue 36 / Sided Out, Tuesday Night, Iowa

Sided Out, Tuesday Night, Iowa

By Matthew Burns

Under the streetlight
next to the railroad tracks
a skeleton deer,
clipped by a train, I bet,

and left. Two blocks beyond
it’s darker than anything
I’ve ever seen, a big dark,
one that knows nothing

more than to bend over
everything that doesn’t
push back, poke into it;
pitch a tent of light

and just ride it out.
When the train finally rolls
away, I am on it, rolling
into that big dark between

here and everything
ahead: past the deer
and abandoned grist
mills, lost causes

of cars, a fence hung
with cow skulls from
the thick middle-
of-the-Midwest, and a lone

horse silhouetted on a hill.
Somewhere there are fields
of corn, third-shift workers,
and a dog sleeping

on a porch, head tucked
into his belly for warmth
with the day’s sorrows
and consolations sitting

alongside, like the bones
of another animal
that once came toward

a light coming toward

its head, like some great
bright erasure of a night
that rolls on, heavy,
endless, and bleak

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