The Long Way

Robert Lee Kendrick

after Ilse Aichinger

No cop in sight, but I lay off the gas as the town line light
flicks to yellow. Night holds the wane moon like a butterfly

knife. A guy in a Braves hat and camo leans to a gun blue
Caprice, takes his hand from the cracked blackened window.

His buddy paces by a gutted payphone, rust-tinged bike
chain swaying from his pocket, marking seconds. All of us

want the stars in our veins, sparkling silence under our skin.
Too proud for pills, I talk to dark water, wait for moonlight

to strike out my debts, for creek drone to smother what knocks
my ribs, while Steph turns her last shift over and over in sleep,

knotting our bed. A house we no longer want. One stillborn kid.
Trying to keep our necks out of the red. Five miles to the creek.

Sit on cold dirt, swear again to the wind I believe the sun will rise
when the moon falls, the moon will rise when the sun falls, the sky

will pull clouds from the stars and the blue. The wind will lay
hands on my head. It can wait night and day for the truth.


Robert Lee KendrickRobert Lee Kendrick lives in Clemson, SC. He has previously published, or has poems forthcoming, in Atlanta Review, Tar River Poetry, Louisiana Literature, The Cape Rock, South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. He has been awarded a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to the 2017 Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His chapbook, Winter Skin, was released in 2016 by Main Street Rag Publishing.