Podcast Episode 7: Surprise

read by

Subscribe via RSS, Google Podcasts, Android, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or on iTunes!

Welcome back to the Reckoning Press podcast. It’s been ages, but we’re ramping up to a lot of cool new stuff in the coming year and beyond, including lots more podcasts, a fundraiser to increase payrates to 10c/word, $50/page for poetry and pay staff better too, t-shirts, pins, who knows what else. Homebrew recipes. Foraging instructions. Bespoke lectures about culling invasive species. We’re flush with ideas, as we should be, but we’re always looking for more. Drop us a line if you’ve got any?

Reckoning Press is a US-based nonprofit; we flourish under your regard. Please support us on Patreon, consider donating directly, buy a book or an ebook, read our contributors’ beautiful work for free online, and submit! We’re always open to submissions, we’re always excited in particular to read work from Black, brown, Indigenous, queer, disabled, trans, or otherwise marginalized poets, writers and artists.

You can find all this and more on our website at: reckoning.press/support-us. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or by visiting reckoning.press/audio.

Thank you very much for listening.

Hi, everyone, my name’s Catherine Rockwood, and today for the Reckoning Magazine Podcast, I’m going to be reading you “Surprise” by Tom Barlow, which is featured in Reckoning 6.


My hometown was already a wreck by the

time I arrived. Nimishillen Creek ran


motor oil and sewer slops behind the

high school, and downtown disappeared in


smoke the day fathers lit their coal furnaces.

Deer and bluebirds were as rare as the


people who worried about the deer and

the bluebirds, and we hurled beer cans


onto the roadside like our heroes threw

hand grenades. We rode our motorbikes


up and down the slag heaps left us by

the strip miners who took their money


and moved as far away as they could afford

from the ruin that funded their move, and


there was joy everywhere in the conviction

that America went on forever and nothing


we could do would ever fill it up.