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Mike Jurkovic


I never did get back to Topeka.
What was the point? There was bullshit
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.
The mothballed freighters
falling twice as fast.
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.


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