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.




Author: Tom Barlow

Tom Barlow is an Ohio author of poetry, short stories and novels. His work has appeared in  journals and anthologies including  PlainSongs, Ekphrastic Review, Voicemail Poetry, Hobart, Tenemos, Redivider, Aji,  The New York Quarterly, The Modern Poetry Quarterly, and many more. See more at

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