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Prairie Madness

Saint Paul, 7 August 2006

Vanes askew at cockcrow like prairie madness
Each turn of the windmill is a death rattle
Whose bearings are certain to seize up
Like a twisted door too cocked to slam shut

By mid-day half-baked wind keeps it turning
And squealing to remind those of us left behind
That the last good well is long since dry
And no rain is forecasted for generations

Exhausted and forlorn this bone-weary soil
Settles to a tin cup like dashed hope to despair
So even slack-jawed squatters with syphilis
Cast off the good Lord to reason before leaving town

Every year I return to this place in the fall
Dutifully change the unused loony bin bedpans
Hang the only threadbare curtains that make sense
And discard the unsound soles of shabby shoes

I re-paper the slumping schoolhouse walls
With the discolored newprint of a miraculous cure
Chinking each crack to smother all abominations
Horrors more deafening with each passing year

By nightfall I’m dumbstruck in the town hall
Deserted in the wilderness of a crowded room
Attended by ghosts too disintegrated to fathom grief
But too desperate to make small talk